There's a war on in start-up land for top talent, particularly top tech talent, so no early-stage company in its right mind would pursue a policy that deterred a full fifty percent of the potential applicant pool from considering coming towork for them, right? But according to a recent survey by PaperG that's what many start-ups end up doing when they fail to offer a clear maternity leave policy.

When one employee at advertising start-up PaperG got pregnant, the leadership team realized they were lacking a set policy on what the company would offer team members who are expecting. To get a better handle on the industry standard and formulate the right policy for their company, PaperG decided to conduct a little survey, polling seed stage right up to post-IPO companies about how they handled pregnant employees.

They recently reported the results on their blog. The bottom line: "Overall we found that despite the immense pool of benefits used to attract talent in the startup world--such as catered lunches, gym memberships, and unlimited vacation--paid maternity leave is sorely lacking in attention."

The Details

While the overall picture when it came to maternity benefits was poor, unsurprisingly the poll revealed the the more established a company, the more likely it was to have a formal policy in place. While a grand total of zero seed stage companies had a policy, predictably, all those at Series D stage up to post-IPO had one.

What impact does that lack of a clearly laid out policy for parents to be have when it comes to hiring? "The necessity of implementing maternity leave policies is more important than many startups may think," PaperG insists. The companyalso talked to 101 women currently working in startups about how a company's policies around the issue would affect their choice of where to work. A hefty 61 percent of these respondents said they would not consider working at a company with no maternity leave policy in place.

Given that these women are already working at start-ups, it's highly likely the vast majority have the sort of skills other upstart companies crave. By being unclear about maternity benefits, start-ups are turning off a pretty hefty chunk of a much desired applicant pool. Or as PaperG puts it, "this suggests that all of the seed stage startups, and some of the Series A, B and C are potentially missing out on a huge portion of female tech talent."

No wonder experienced investor Christine Tsai recently took startups to task for not defining their policies for expectant parents.

Is it past time your start-up nailed down a maternity leave policy?