Working Parent Support Coalition Members Report Year One Progress to Support Workplace Wellness Improvements for Parents & Newborns

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Barclays, Danone, Ernst & Young, KKR, Nestlé Implement Commitments for their Working Parents & Their Families

“With more new parents being part of a dual-career couple, offering modern benefits for both women and men allows them to live dynamic and fulfilling lives both at home and work," said Karyn Twaronite, EY Global Diversity & Inclusiveness Officer.

Marking National Work & Family Month and the one year anniversary of commitments to support workplace wellness improvements for parents and newborns, several leading and progressive businesses in the USA today announced the impact of workplace wellness initiatives they have implemented for their employees who are new parents and their children. Initiated by Danone in 2015, the Working Parent Support Coalition was conceived of by leaders at the US-based divisions and subsidiaries of Barclays, Danone, Ernst & Young, KKR and Nestlé. Coalition members committed to implement a broad range of parental workplace support practices that ultimately improve health, development, and economic outcomes for both families and companies. These practices around parental workplace support range from transformative strategies, such as longer paid parental leave, to more modest yet highly meaningful ones, such as providing transition support training.

Despite efforts made in the last decades to lower the barriers for parents, and especially women, to balance work and parenthood, the reality is that parental leave practices in the U.S. are still well below global standards. This may have a negative impact on health, the economy and women's advancement in the workplace. At the heart of the issue are the conditions around parental leave, back-to-work strategies, leadership and company culture, and in-office support.

Each of the founding Coalition members carefully considered how it can measurably improve the quality of life for their employees who are new parents and their infants. And, based on the variety of different businesses in the Coalition, the commitments of the founding companies vary widely in type of benefit, scale and reach. Each company’s commitment takes into account the unique baseline of current benefits and what each company believes is sustainable; and each shares the requirement that the commitment be new, specific and measurable over a baseline assessment. This flexible approach recognizes that all workplace settings and job requirements are not the same, and workplace wellness must be assessed in the context of social and business sustainability. Coalition partners have committed to improve in the areas of company culture, in-office support and/or paid leave. No effort is too small, and every improvement counts to help improve health and economic outcomes. The Coalition is unique because it is informing and inspiring other companies to join in a collective movement to improve the quality of life for parents and their newborns when a child and mother’s health are so heavily influenced.

Also unique to the Coalition are the roles that the American Academy of Pediatrics and Cornell University are playing. Each is providing access to their existing resources and tools to help Coalition companies to establish workplace programs to support parents and families with education and guidance to make the most out of this window of opportunity for the best start in life.

Progress Updates from Some of the Founding Coalition Members

Danone’s U.S.-based companies: “The implementation of our Parental Leave Policy exemplifies our commitment to align our benefits with our Mission and Manifesto conviction to bring health through food to as many people as possible,” said Luciana Nunez, General Manager of Danone - Nutricia Early Life Nutrition, who also conceived of the Working Parent Support Coalition. The policy provides expectant families of Danone companies in the US with 26 weeks of fully paid leave, which gives our employees who are mothers, primary care givers and non-primary givers (who receive 4 weeks of fully paid leave) the time they need with their newborns and for themselves. Danone’s US-based companies include Dannon, Danone Waters of America, Happy Family Organics, Nutricia North America, Nutricia Early Life Nutrition, and Stonyfield.

Vivian Ni is one Danoner in the US who has seen firsthand the benefits of the Parental Leave Policy. In the case of Vivian, who is originally from China and has worked for Danone since 2009 in different countries, the available policy has had a profound impact. In the beginning of 2015 Vivian accepted a position with Danone Waters of America and moved to New York, where she is now a new mom to a 15-week baby girl, Sophia. According to Vivian, “The new parental leave policy has helped me to witness and enjoy every precious moment of Sophia's growth, her first smile, first coo, first grab of my fingers and so on. Those are such beautiful memories in my life and I can also take good care of my baby. She was born two weeks earlier than planned and born with VSD, which requires frequent doctor visits. With the new policy, I am able to fully dedicate my time to her and bond with her. Danone is a great company that gives you opportunities to learn and encourages you to take new challenges to grow at work. Danone also supports you when you are taking new challenges in your personal life and helps you to become a responsible parent. I am really happy that Danone US launched this new policy.”

Ernst & Young: Earlier this year, EY launched its new Pathways to Parenthood benefits package, which increased and equalized the amount of paid parental leave available for new parents and those who may want to become parents – 16 weeks paid leave for both mothers and fathers welcoming a child through birth, adoption, surrogacy, foster care or legal guardianship; financial assistance of up to $25,000 per family for adoption and advanced reproductive technology procedures, which includes surrogacy and medically-necessary cryopreservation; and 24 days of subsidized care with Bright Horizon’s in-home or center-based care during the child’s first full year in a new family home.

“We were proud to be the first professional services firm to offer new mothers and fathers 16 weeks of paid parental leave,” said Karyn Twaronite, EY Global Diversity & Inclusiveness Officer. “With more new parents being part of a dual-career couple, offering modern benefits for both women and men allows them to live dynamic and fulfilling lives both at home and work. Interestingly, our EY Global People Survey shows us that in the US, our working parents are the most engaged professionals, which leads to higher retention and performance.”

In addition to these new benefits, EY parents will continue to have access to the firm’s Career & Family Transitions Coaching Program – where internal coaches help soon-to-be parents plan for transition needs before, during and after parental leave. To date, approximately 700 EY parents have participated in the program and almost 20% of them are fathers. Providing competitive and holistic benefits for new parents enables EY to attract and retain top talent – many of whom are millennials professionals.

KKR: Last year, KKR implemented a series of initiatives designed to support our hard-working parents, including: extending paid leave for primary caregivers (male or female) from 12 to 16 weeks, implementing a Firm-paid Childcare Travel Program to provide employees the option of bringing their baby and childcare provider on essential business-related travel within their infant’s first year, offering executives parental leave transition support for transitioning to or from parental leave, and introducing on-site wellness programming. Since becoming a founding member of the Working Parent Support Coalition, the Firm has built upon its commitment to its working parents by continuing to expand adoption reimbursement benefits to all employees, improving lactation support and resources for nursing mothers, implementing Firm-paid breast milk shipping during business travel, implementing coverage for gender reassignment surgery, and continuing unlimited benefits for fertility treatments. “These enhancements are among numerous steps we’ve been taking to advance our goal of becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization,” said Mike Michelson, KKR Member and Head of the Firm’s Inclusion and Diversity Council. ”We continue to identify and implement other ‘best-in-class’ practices to drive greater diversity and inclusion across our Firm and better support our most important assets: the people who walk through our doors every day.”

Any companies interested to discuss joining the Working Parent Support Coalition are encouraged to learn more and contact the Coalition at: http://bit.ly/workingparentsupport.

Coalition member media contacts:
Barclays: Kerrie.cohen(at)barclays(dot)com / 212-412-4096
Danone U.S.-based companies: michael.neuwirth(at)dannon(dot)com / 914-872-8708
EY: Armando.diaz(at)ey(dot)com / 561-729-6091
KKR: kristi.huller(at)kkr(dot)com / 212-230-9722
Nestlé: Emily.Dimiero(at)US.nestle(dot)com

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Jessica R Randazza
Danone
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