Child care benefits could help ease the worker crunch, an advocacy campaign says.

Nearly half of mothers with young children who left the workforce cited childcare as a reason for the move, according to a survey released Wednesday, and 69 percent of women looking for work said childcare benefits influenced their decision about where to can affect work.

The survey of more than 1,000 workers, by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company and Marshall Plan for Moms, a campaign focused on the economic participation of mothers, adds to research that examines how the lack of childcare drags down the economy and ‘ a tighter already hot labor market.

“Companies are looking for talent,” says Reshma Saujani, who founded Marshall Plan for Moms and Girls Who Code, a nonprofit dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology. “Our report shows that you can only attract, retain and advance women in the workforce by providing childcare benefits.”

Many executives and child care activists had hoped that President Biden’s infrastructure plan would provide support for the industry. But the truncated bill was signed without major investments in child care. Ms Saujani says the onus now rests on the private sector.

Most salaried and hourly workers do not have access to child care benefits. Six percent of hourly workers surveyed and 16 percent of salaried workers said they had access to childcare subsidies. The same percentage of hourly workers, and even fewer salaried workers, reported that their employer provided backup child care or offered pre-tax flexible spending accounts that could be used to pay for care. About 30 percent of respondents said they have flexible working hours.

Mrs. Saujani’s campaign is forming a business coalition that includes Patagonia and Archewell, the production company founded by Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. To report, companies must offer a child care subsidy or benefit or intend to provide one, Ms. Saujani said. Once they join the coalition, businesses can share and learn from each other’s best practices.

Synchrony, a financial services firm that is part of the coalition, found that offering creative childcare options to its employees led to an increase in job satisfaction and an influx of job applications, said Carol Juel, the company’s chief technology and operations officer, said.

In the summer of 2020, the company created a virtual summer camp, putting high school and college kids of their employees in charge of keeping 3,700 campers busy in exchange for mentorship training and college credit. And the company will “send out the following week’s schedule every Friday so workers can plan their meetings around this,” Ms. Juel said.

Fast Retailing USA, which operates clothing brands including Uniqlo, Theory and Helmut Lang and is also part of the coalition, has begun offering monthly childcare allowances of up to $1,000 for many employees, including store managers. The money can be spent in any way they see fit rather than being tied to specific providers.

“Many of the people involved in sponsoring this policy, including myself and some of our heads of human resources, all have children the same age,” said Serena Peck, Fast Retailing’s chief administrative officer and general counsel. They saw firsthand how “the market for good childcare was shrinking” and “felt we had to do something.”

Related Posts