Businesses Expand Benefits to Retain Working Mothers

Businesses Expand Benefits to Retain Working Mothers

As more and more companies recognize the need to keep women in the workforce after they become mothers, the most progressive employers have introduced a range of new benefits to cater specifically to the needs of working parents. Quartz’s Jenny Anderson takes a look at the latest report from Working Mother highlighting the 100 US companies with the best benefits for moms and showing the lengths they are going to in order to retain them:

Cutting-edge companies on this front, including Deloitte, IBM, McKinsey, UBS, and Unilever, have delved into the most painful tradeoffs inherent to hard work: kids in need, household management, and family illness. The response includes help for parents whose kids have autism (88% of Working Mother’s top 100 companies offer this type of support), college coaching for teens (63% of the top 100 offer it), letting new moms phase back into work gradually with full pay (70% offer this), and even homework hotlines, which one-quarter of Working Mother’s top 100 offer. …

Working Mother, which has compiled the list for 32 years, picks its best companies based on 400 questions about a range of factors, including leave policies, workforce representation, benefits, childcare, advancement programs, and flexibility policies. … The most competitive companies go deeper, though, focusing on employees’ needs after parental leave, and how to help them stay. More companies are now willing to say, “‘I will pay more, have less in my bottom line, but I will keep employees,’” says [Subha Barry, senior vice president & managing director of Working Mother Media].

Retention is indeed the name of the game here, as the absence of family-friendly policies is a significant driver of attrition among working mothers.

This attrition in turn contributes to the “motherhood penalty” women pay in lifetime earnings as a result of having children, harming their retirement security and exacerbating gender inequality. In the past year, we have seen tech companies reaching out to mid-career women who left the business to have children and trying to attract them back, often with “returnship” programs to help older professionals reintegrate into work life after lengthy career breaks.

IBM’s re-entry program, for example, is a 12-week internship that places mid-career women with STEM backgrounds in one of the company’s various business lines, giving them a mentor, a project to work on, and a chance to demonstrate their value and update their skills at the same time (IBM is on Working Mother’s list, and has been for over 25 years). American Express, another longtime presence on the list, launched a personal concierge service for new parents on its payroll as part of a new family benefits package introduced late last year. Fifth Third Bank has a similar program for new and expecting mothers, which helps them manage the tedious day-to-day tasks that come with being a new parent.