Having on-site child care is priceless for both dad and daughter. Patagonia HQ. Photo: Kyle Sparks

Why Strong Families Build Strong Businesses

By Dean Carter, Patagonia VP

Patagonia’s family policies began as frantic solutions for colleagues who were struggling to breastfeed and care for their babies without losing their jobs. As research mounted showing that mothers and infants benefit physically and emotionally from nursing, we developed systems that let families prolong nursing past the crucial first six months. Patagonia HQ. Photo: Kyle Sparks
  1. Employers should get behind the FAMILY Act, which creates a national standard for paid family and medical leave to help reduce costs and level our competitive playing field while allowing workers to meet their health needs and caregiving responsibilities. The FAMILY Act was first introduced in Congress two years ago and has since picked up substantial support — yet it hasn’t been heard in committee or voted on by legislators. Let’s push our elected officials to make paid family leave a law in our country.
  2. Every company with 200 employees in one place or more should seriously consider the introduction of high-quality, on-site child care. This allays the anxiety for all new parents and is the next best thing to having them within eyesight or earshot. Good child care is expensive, but at Patagonia we estimate that we earn back 90–125 percent of our paid subsidy for our on-site child care program (a big reason we recently expanded the program from our California headquarters to our 400-employee distribution center in Nevada as well). Independent studies show similar returns on this kind of investment for other companies.
  3. Consider a diverse but holistic package of family-affirming policies, including flex time, private space for lactation, adoption assistance, travel support programs for nursing mothers, and child care subsidies for companies that don’t provide on-site care.

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