Making October’s National Work & Family Month Matter For Your Organization

Eliza Khuner, ex-Facebook data scientist.

‘I stood in front of Zuckerberg with my baby strapped to my chest and told him, “I see the posters here every day that say, ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’” I asked him what he would do: “Would you lead this company and the US in supporting working parents? Would you give us the chance to show you how kick-ass and loyal we can be with fewer hours at our desks — if you weren’t afraid? I challenged him to stop making us choose… an in-office, 40-hour workweek requirement is at odds with the human need for family and community.’

Eliza Khuner, ex-Facebook data scientist

Khuner asked to temporarily work part-time at Facebook while her baby was young, and quit when Human Resources said no. She left Facebook permanently because, despite her loyalty, her organization wouldn’t support a short-term work adjustment.

Khuner also stated that for every parent who protests, there are many more who suffer silently because they can’t afford to lose their job or cut their hours. October marks National Work & Family Month here in the United States. Affirmed by Congress in 2003 with unanimous consent, this social awareness month is meant to:

  • remind employers the importance of creating equitable practices that enable healthy work-life experiences,
  • spotlight challenges preventing families- especially working mothers- from purposeful career growth,
  • and remind companies why they must include caregivers in their diversity and inclusion investments.
Today In: Leadership

Sarah Johal is a working mother and brand marketing professional with experience advocating for parent-friendly employee programs and policies within high-profile tech organizations. Johal is a thought leader on this topic, currently writing her first business book exploring how motherhood bias is slowing down our global economy and innovation. Below she discusses what can employers do to take action in October:

Add Caregivers To Inclusion Objectives And Key Results

‘Chief Human Resource Officers and Chief Diversity Officers are leaving caregivers off their radar, while the motherhood penalty women face in the workforce continues to be the leading contributor to the gender pay gap. One big reason? Over 40% of Americans still believe mothers should simply stay home and stay out of the office. We must stretch beyond gender, ethnicity, and/or sexual orientation to measure holistic inclusion. One way is to create a data benchmark to gauge if there’s a problem with talent growth – companies with 50 or more employees can opt-in to add women with dependents or caregiving identifiers, within federal EEO-1 diversity reporting for May 2020 submission.’

Offer Equal Family Care And Sick Time Coverage

‘Despite companies claiming to be competitive with employee perks, caregiving benefits are still an afterthought. We must embrace 24-weeks minimum fully paid parental leave policies (like the new modern bar set by Sun Life Insurance), and encourage employees to actually take that time off, to shorten the gender pay gap. We must also embrace equal paid sick time, and family leave coverage for all chosen family experiences. According to a recent UCLA study across several nations, lesbian couples are getting three months less on average than heterosexual couples, and gay male couples are getting five months less paid family leave on average. It will take inter-sectional execution to unblock policy bias.’

Educate And Train Management

‘Tasking impacted workers or ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) to educate their colleagues isn’t enough. Businesses need to train management on terminology and bias within micro-moments. For example, explaining why comparing family leave to a vacation is incredibly disrespectful. And the not-so-hidden biases that caregivers can experience during interviews, onboarding, in the office, traveling for work and returning from leave. Western Union reported that 85% of its leaders who participated in unconscious training related to motherhood bias reported a greater understanding of how bias impacts mothers.’

The Future Of Work Spells F-L-E-X-I-B-L-E

While machine learning and automation surround the future of work, so must flexible paths towards economic mobility. More workers will spend more time caring for our aging Baby Boomer generation. And 64 million Millennials will become new parents in the next ten years. That’s a LOT of mid-day medical appointments and early bedtime routines. Employers must create more part-time 24-hour shift options to bridge in-office expectation and caregiving requirements. Teams who are enabling flexible scheduling needs and preferred physical locations are ahead of the game.

Also, to honor this month, Johal suggests employers should host month-long employee events including virtual speaker series, career workshops, and book giveaways that introduce topics of inclusion to kids and teens. Working parents and family caregivers feel some of the least amount of belonging in the workplace, and it’s difficult to measure their impact in the workplace because caregivers aren’t part of most inclusion strategies, nor are they part of federal diversity reporting requirements. Ultimately Johal invites organizations to spark a conversation about ‘National Work & Family Month’ with their teammates, no matter how big or small the effort.

[“source=forbes”]