As a country, we're hopelessly far behind the rest of the industrialized world when it comes to paid maternity and paternity leave. Absent any direction from the federal government, some businesses are taking matters into their own hands and making life a little easier for working parents. In fact, this week high-end stylist and designer Rachel Zoe penned a blog post about why she decided to open a nursery in her West Hollywood office. Her reasons were simple: Five of her staffers became mothers in 2014 and, as a mom of two, Zoe knew the value of family time—especially during the first months of baby's life. She also understood that helping your employees strike a work-family balance was a win-win.
"Seeing how motivated and committed the mothers on my team were after returning from maternity leave and being able to set up their babies in the nursery has only solidified my belief that every company should consider this option," she wrote. "Sure it required us to make additional investments—the physical space, the insurance required to protect everyone, the furnishings—but what we are getting in return is invaluable; the working mothers at our company can improve and grow our business without having to sacrifice spending precious time with their babies at such a crucial stage in their mother-child relationships."
It's an excellent point that deserves to be mulled over at more board meetings, because as many of us know, it's not so easy for new moms and dads going back to work. Maternity leaves are often shortened for insurance or financial reasons, and paternity leave is typically seen as a perk instead of a deserved break. Nursing moms sometimes feel bullied or discouraged from pumping during business hours. And not every manager can accommodate working remotely or flexible hours.
Conditions even vary from state to state. WalletHub just released its list of the best and worst states for working moms based on such factors as child care, employment opportunities, median women's salary and work/life balance. According to that list, working women have it best in Vermont, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Washington, North Dakota, Maine, Virginia, and Ohio. Meanwhile, it's more of a struggle for moms in Louisiana, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Nevada, Arkansas, Georgia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Oklahoma. But I'd hazard a guess that moms in any of the 50 states and D.C. could use a little more support when making the transition back to work after having a baby. And if that help comes in the form of a tricked-out nursery just steps away from the desk, all the better.
I want to hear from you: How did you make the transition back to work easier?
Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
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Photo of Rachel Zoe and her children courtesy of Rachel Zoe via Instagram