Silicon Valley cryptocurrency unicorn Coinbase has taken an unusual and expensive step to recruit and retain diverse employees.
Since the summer, Coinbase has quietly offered to cover up to $5,000 a year for treatments like egg-freezing through the fertility benefits startup Carrot. This employee perk, which helps women conceive children later in life, is provided in addition to Coinbase’s health insurance options.
One Coinbase employee, who preferred to stay anonymous, told CoinDesk:
“It’s definitely a luxury, which is why I feel fortunate that Coinbase and Carrot help make family planning more simple and affordable. It’s frankly a relief not to have to worry about family planning on a day-to-day basis.”
The benefit puts Coinbase in an elite category of employers with Google, Apple, and Facebook, which also offer egg-freezing benefits.
But human resources veteran John Paller, co-founder of the benefits and payroll startup Opolis, told CoinDesk such fertility treatment coverage is extremely rare among companies in general, let alone blockchain startups. He said:
“Only high paying, wealthy companies would even consider adding a benefit like this. Regarding crypto companies, many of them are just figuring out how to provide basic benefits to their employees.”
In this way, the perk signals how Coinbase, which recently raised $300 million in a funding round that valued the company at a record $8 billion, is leveraging its ample resources in a fierce competition for blockchain talent.
“With possibilities for egg freezing, IVF [in vitro fertilization], fertility preservation, surrogacy, and more, our fertility benefits can serve a wide range of use cases for our diverse group of employees,” Nat McGrath, Coinbase’s VP of people, told CoinDesk.
Coinbase would not disclose how many employees have taken advantage of these treatments, citing privacy concerns. But McGrath emphasized that such benefits are available to all employees and their partners, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Queer employees can use these benefits to help them conceive, while all others can also apply the same benefits to their partners.
On the other hand, Carrot CEO Tammy Sun told CoinDesk that several other cryptocurrency companies have reached out over the past year to start exploring the same benefits. Overall, Carrot works with “dozens” of employers, Sun said.
Crypto’s benefits rush
Some smaller crypto companies, like the ethereum-centric wallet startup MyCrypto with around 20 employees, already offer paid paternity and maternity leave, a benefit roughly a third of American finance and tech jobs offer.
MyCrypto CMO Jordan Spence told CoinDesk the company’s policy on family-planning benefits will “evolve” as more employees decide to have kids.
However, most women who freeze their eggs do it while they are single, years before they are ready to start families, giving Coinbase a distinct edge in recruiting younger talent.
To be fair, egg-freezing is still a niche procedure undergone by just 9,000 U.S.-based women a year, according to a 2016 report by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.
And given that egg-freezing often costs up to $22,000 from extraction to implantation several years later, even Coinbase employees who take advantage of this annual benefit may find the out-of-pocket costs to be steep.
Yet McGrath said the topic has repeatedly come up while recruiting.
“We want employees to feel confident that as they build their careers in crypto, they can also nurture and grow their families,” McGrath said, concluding:
“Offering these types of benefits helps us attract a wider and more diverse talent pool.”