Any mom who’s ever gone back to work after the birth of a child knows it’s gut-wrenching. First, you’re emotionally bereft about not being with your teeny baby every day, secondly, you’re exhausted from sleepless nights and having to perform at work, and thirdly, if you’re nursing, you’ve got a pump, bottles, and swollen breasts to deal with. Having done it twice, I can attest to the fact that it’s anything but easy!
So, you guys…my heart literally leapt for joy when I read a Facebook post yesterday by Beth Wood Shelton, CEO of Girl Scouts Iowa. Her post, in short, seemed almost like a dream to me. She made the stunning announcement that if you work at Girl Scouts of Iowa, you can bring your infant to work ev-er-y day until that baby is six months old, or crawling, whichever comes first.
EVERY DAY! It’s take your baby to work day every day at the Girl Scouts of Iowa. Is that amazing, or what??
Shelton says that the new policy was tirelessly researched and discussed, but that she knows from her past experience as a working mom that it was very necessary. She says:
“I’m a female executive with 3 children. I have felt, deep in my bones, the fatigue of reporting to a board of directors after being up all night with a newborn; juggling media appearances while frantically cleaning spit up off my lapel; and shaping strategic plans while seeking an appropriate place to pump at executive meetings. The impossible juggle of work and life, performer and mother, shapes my very DNA.” (Bold emphasis mine because oh my gosh READ THAT AGAIN! TRUTH!!)
Shelton hopes their Infants at Work policy will spread to other companies and help close the gender wage gap. “According to the American Economic Review,” she says, “the gender wage gap starts at nearly zero for recent college graduates and widens starkly, up to 55%, in the child-bearing years, with women falling behind drastically thereafter.”
Though Girls Scouts of Iowa has long had generous parental leave policies for moms, dads, and guardians, Shelton says that years of experience have shown that it wasn’t enough. “We created policies that prioritized work/life balance and were named a Top Workplace in Iowa for the first time ever,” she says, “But we knew we could do more.”
And MORE they are doing. Though Shelton acknowledges she knows it won’t be easy, she is confident that Infants at Work is the right policy for the organization she leads.
“We know this is ‘disruptive,'” she continued. “We know babies cry. We know they need attention and care and diapers and quiet places. And yes, we also know that productivity will dip for parents who are multi-tasking with their infant present. That’s true. But we also know that we want to attract and retain talented employees, provide economic savings for employees, and support employees in their transition back to work. We want to support women who choose to nurse, and support babies in a developmental period of importance.”
Mamas, if I’d had ANY employer ever say that to me, EVER, I would have been in a puddle of tears. Shelton’s words, and the Infants at Work policy, are simply AMAZING. I’ll be honest, those last few lines did make me tear up, for real. I hope you will all read, share, and comment on this article and her post to let the whole world know that policies like these are what working mamas need. This could be game-changing for 100% of us—let’s spread the word!!
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