A former executive for Ivanka Trump’s clothing company says she struggled to take paid maternity leave when she was working for Trump.
Marissa Velez Kraxberger, who served as Trump’s chief marketing and creative officer (she’s now in the same role at Rag & Bone), revealed on Facebook that Trump told her she would have to “think about” giving her maternity leave, despite being a mother herself and hiring Kraxberger when she was two months pregnant.
Kraxberger said she decided to speak out after hearing Trump’s impassioned speech at the Republican National Convention on the importance of maternity leave. During that speech in support of her father’s campaign, Ivanka talked about the importance of eliminating the gender wage gap and making sure that when “a woman becomes a mother, she is supported, not shut out.” She also said that, “as president, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce, and he will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all.”
“As a mother myself, of three young children, I know how hard it is to work while raising a family,” Ivanka continued. “American families need relief. Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties, they should be the norm.” Donald Trump’s campaign rolled out a proposed policy soon after that would guarantee mothers six weeks of paid leave and childcare subsidies.
Kraxberger says that she felt “ill” about Ivanka’s speech. “When I first interviewed with Ivanka, I was two months pregnant, she called to offer me a job, which I was at the time very excited about,” Kraxberger wrote. “When I asked about maternity leave she said she would have to think about it, that at Trump they don’t offer maternity leave and that she went back to work just a week after having her first child.” Kraxberger said she was “dumb enough” to accept the job after agreeing to talk about leave further down the road. Consequently, she says, she and her team – who created the hashtag #WomenWhoWork – had to fight “long and hard” to get Ivanka to agree to eight weeks of paid maternity leave.
Kraxberger says she doesn’t think Ivanka is a bad person, but that she just doesn’t understand what it’s really like to be an average working mother. “I can see how it might be possible to go back to work after having a baby when you have a lot of help at home,” Kraxberger wrote. “I am however saying that if you truly support parenting and children then you actually have to support it fully… and that also means supporting maternity leave for adopted children and paternity leave as well. How can she claim that their maternity policy is a comprehensive solution for our country?”
In August, the Washington Post revealed that G-III, the business that designs and distributes Ivanka’s clothing line, does not offer paid maternity leave to employees. Several workers spoke to the Post (on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs), including one who said she used up all of her vacation days and savings to take time off when she had her baby last year. However, a spokesperson for Ivanka’s business told the Post that the company offers eight weeks of paid leave to new mothers.
While some women like Ivanka go back to work just days after having a baby, it’s important for women to have some kind of maternity leave after giving birth, says women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, MD. “From a medical standpoint, a woman who just gave birth physically needs time to heal: from after-pains and sore muscles to vaginal soreness and surgical recovery,” she tells Yahoo Beauty. “It’s very hard for the average woman to ‘bounce back’ to her pre-pregnancy state immediately.”
Emotional recovery is also an issue. “Hormones are out of whack for a period of time after you give birth, and many women need time to adjust mentally and emotionally to the new changes,” Wider says.
Kraxberger says she’s still proud of the work she did at Ivanka’s company, but says she doesn’t support Ivanka’s father. “We, as women, need to rise and have a voice against this man and all that he stands for,” she concluded.
A brand spokesperson replied to our request for comment with the following:
The team at Ivanka Trump is saddened by this mischaracterization of how our company developed its industry leading culture and benefits package. In addition to paid leave, we also offer all employees flexible work schedules and unlimited vacation and sick days.
As a company for women, run by women, we spent a considerable amount of time in the early days of building our business developing a unique corporate culture and engaged in meaningful dialogue about the benefits that would be most impactful to the people working at Ivanka Trump.
While we respect differing political views from employees, past and present, we are steadfast in our belief that we have built a culture and a brand to be proud of and are deeply committed to supporting and empowering women.