The International Labour Organization (ILO) and UN Women held a training webinar titled “Employer-Supported Solutions for Childcare” as part of the EU-funded project to promote women’s economic empowerment. The training webinar aims to give participants an understanding of the critical role of employer-supported childcare in promoting gender equality at the workplace. It presents the business case for employer-supported childcare and highlights possible workplace solutions and illustrative practices from the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) guide Tackling Childcare: A Guide for Employer-Supported Childcare 2019 as well as the experiences of the companies Patagonia and Danone Italy.
The full webinar recording is available here: https://www.empowerwomen.org/en/resources/videos/2020/03/webinar-employer-supported-solutions-for-childcare?lang=en
1. Childcare plays a significant role in achieving gender equality at work and a better future of work for all
- The ILO Quantum Leap for Gender Equality Report 2019 finds that the employment rates of women with care responsibilities tend to be higher in countries that have a higher share of GDP investment in pre-primary education and other care policies, such as maternity protection and parental leave.
- Investing in the care economy is the right and smart thing to do, as called for by the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work. Doubling the current public and private investment in care services to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would create 269 million new jobs by the year 2030.
- The quality of childcare services is linked to the qualifications and quality working conditions of childcare workers. The ILO has adopted Policy Guidelines on the promotion of decent work for early childhood education personnel.
2. There is a business case for employer-supported childcare
- Access to good quality, affordable childcare has become increasingly relevant for employers. The ILO Women in Business and Management: The Business Case for Change Report 2019 shows that there are long-term and strategic benefits to an organization’s bottom line associated with extending maternity and paternity leave and helping with childcare.
- Workplace solutions for childcare can strengthen recruitment, increase talent diversity, improve corporate reputation and staff retention, enhance productivity, improve employee satisfaction; increase creativity and innovation, attract investors and buyers.
- Despite these benefits, there exists a gap between childcare demand and supply. A large number of companies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises, still struggle to implement solutions, establish metrics, collect data, access reliable information business case.
3. There are multiple fit-for-purpose workplace solutions that can make a difference
- Employer-supported childcare is not aimed at replacing the primary role of the public sector and there are multiple workplace solutions that are zero or low cost that can support working parents.
- Since employers’ contexts, needs and capacities vary significantly across company size, sectors and regions, listening to the needs of workers, providing a fit-for purpose integrated package of work-family solutions and creating a care-friendly workplace culture can make a significant difference.
- The IFC guide Tackling Childcare: A Guide for Employer-Supported Childcare 2019 makes the case for employer-supported childcare solutions and provides practical tools, ideas, examples, and suggestions for employers who are considering options for helping working families.
4. How companies provide tailored childcare services through company policies
- To gauge employees’ childcare support needs, the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi surveyed its employees, and accordingly developed a tailored suite of childcare options, including increased parental leave. As a result, they were able to lower turnover rates for women, and increase the number of women in leadership. This also enabled the Bank to retain more than 1,000 new mothers, resulting in notional financial returns of 45 Million USD.
- Patagonia provides on-site childcare and customized programs and policies to support working parents. This includes flex-time and flex-place, paid leave for full-time and part-time employees, lactation rooms, and a program called ‘Travel support’, which pays for a professional caregiver to travel with employees on required business trips.
- To support its employees, Danone Italy created a focus group of employees and union representatives to elicit feedback on childcare policies. Consequently, Danone devised the Baby Decalogue – 10 rules for the company to support working parents. Danone also focuses on measuring and improving soft skills of employees before and after taking parental leave, through its MAAM Tool – Maternity as a Master.
- ILO Care Work and Care Jobs for the Future of Decent Work
- Early Childhood Education And Care: What Is The EU Doing?
- Eurostat: Childcare Arrangements In Europe
- EU Directive On Work-Life Balance For Parents And Carers
- Maternity, Paternity And Parental Leave In The EU
- Empower Women Platform
- Patagonia Childcare Policies and Programs
- Danone Diversity and Gender Equality
- Danone Global Parental Policy