For too long, we’ve been told that we have no choice but to keep our family lives separate from our careers. The Parenting in the Workplace Institute (PIWI) and the Twiga Foundation are determined to prove that this is no longer true.
We are building a coalition to help thousands of companies to start programs in which employees can bring their babies to work every day and care for them while doing their jobs. Our goal is to launch a movement that will transform how our culture views the integration of career and family for all workers.
Who Are We?
For seven years, PIWI has worked with organizations who understand that allowing employees to bring their babies to work benefits families and the business’s bottom line. The Twiga Foundation has spent the past decade working to promote family consciousness throughout society, particularly in the area of workplace flexibility.
PIWI has confirmed more than 180 baby-inclusive organizations in the United States who have hosted more than 2,100 babies to date. These companies include law firms, consulting companies, credit unions, schools, manufacturing companies, and government agencies. They comprise dozens of industries, in dozens of states, in organizations ranging from 3 to 3,000 employees. More than 2,100 babies have successfully come to work in these organizations.
We have worked to provide resources to every parent and company who asked for our assistance over the years, and we have helped dozens of organizations to start successful baby programs. Our work has been in dozens of media stories over the years, including pieces for Time, the New York Times, People, the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, USA Today, Inc., The Atlantic, and NPR.
The Current Situation:
It seems as though every day there’s a new example of how family-unfriendly our culture can be.
Women being denied jobs for which they are fully qualified, simply because they have children.
Women being fired for carrying a water bottle on the job or ostracized for asking for light duty work during their pregnancy.
A baseball player being criticized for taking three days of paternity leave to be with his wife and new baby.
A father whose employer tried to force him out of his job when he took legally-protected leave to care for his sick daughter.
A Cultural Shift:
Then we have the other side — nearly 200 companies for whom work/life balance means including babies and, in some cases, children of all ages, in the workplace community.
As a baby-inclusive bookstore owner described it, “The baby excitement starts when a woman is pregnant. When the baby comes, everyone wants to crowd around. Even though they’re not related [to the baby], it really became a sense of support and excitement. They pretty much act like a family. It seemed a natural extension of the phrase, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ Everyone signed on to that without ever discussing it. Babies brought out the maternal and paternal instinct in everyone, including customers.”
It’s become clear that some of the most effective advocates for baby programs are business executives who can attest to how transformative these programs have been for their organizations. Once these programs are in place and the first baby has successfully come to work with their parent, objections quickly fade and coworkers find themselves bonding with these children and welcoming them into the workplace community. They volunteer (while still getting their work done) to help care for and nurture the babies — creating a “village” of support for families that has become all too rare in our society. Many of these organizations have actually gone on to implement other family-friendly policies after the baby program showed them firsthand that parents can successfully care for their children and work efficiently at the same time.
Therefore, as the first stage of this effort, we are building a coalition of baby-inclusive businesses who will serve as liaisons to other businesses. They will provide their expertise to help other companies to better support pregnant employees and to implement parenting-at-work programs that enable both fathers and mothers to continue doing their jobs while simultaneously caring for their children.
At the same time, we will build a secure network to enable people to come together in teams to successfully propose parenting-at-work programs within their own organizations. We will provide these teams with template policies, expert advice on how to frame their proposals, and help with locating supportive executives within their organizations to spearhead implementation. We will help these teams to utilize strength in numbers while working with their employers as partners. We will provide comprehensive, step-by-step procedures and support to overcome the most common obstacles to implementing these programs — lack of knowledge and lack of time. We will be partnering with well-respected child development organizations to ensure that we are providing parents with accurate, useful information to help them to keep their children happy and get their work done at the same time.
We will solicit support and peer influencing from executives and managers in baby-inclusive companies who are passionate about the benefits of these programs and who will pledge to convince specific colleagues in other organizations to initiate a pilot babies-at-work program.
We will create a searchable map and features about child-inclusive companies so that we can show the growth of these companies around the U.S. and around the world.
We will provide access to a database of jobs in child-inclusive organizations.
We will partner with other organizations that are dedicated to expanding opportunities for women and making our economy more worker-friendly, so that we can connect with receptive businesses as quickly as possible.
We are eager to learn from other parents who have worked with their children — whether at home or in a corporate environment — so that we can provide a wide range of resources and ideas for parents to make these programs work.
Our coalition will celebrate organizations that use parenting-at-work programs to help their employees and their businesses to succeed, as a step toward a society that truly values families.
How You Can Help:
We are on the verge of creating a culture where children are valued and welcomed. We can build a society in which parents can sustain their families with their children by their sides, while their coworkers form a community of love and support. Join us.