The first 1,000 days of life have a lasting effect on a child’s future. During this time, babies’ brains develop at a rate never to be repeated.
Evidence shows that the right nourishment, stimulating care and a loving environment – or eat, play, love – are critical to giving a child the best start in life.
But with long working hours, many parents miss significant periods of time during the first years of their babies’ lives. They have no option. Family-friendly policies, such as paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks and childcare, are not a reality for most new parents around the world.
Parents need time and support to give their children the best start in life. So what can business do? Here are 10 ways businesses can help create a more family-friendly workplace:
1. Guarantee that women are not discriminated against based on pregnancy, motherhood or family responsibilities – for example, in relation to employment conditions, wages or career opportunities.
2. Establish a minimum of six months paid parental leave to ensure parents can spend quality time with their children when they need it the most.
3. Enable breastfeeding at work through paid breastfeeding breaks, adequate lactation facilities and a supportive breastfeeding environment in the workplace.
4. Support access to affordable and quality childcare to ensure that children have access to early childhood education and can develop the skills they need to reach their full potential.
5. Grant flexible working time arrangements through work from home policies and other measures.
6. Beyond legal compliance, promote decent working conditions such as wages that reflect the cost of living for families.
7. Address the specific challenges faced by migrant and seasonal workers, such as supporting workers to move with their families, and work with governments to support migrant families’ ability to access identification and other basic services.
8. Encourage positive parenting practices with staff – for example, develop training and awareness campaigns to highlight the importance of early childhood development.
9. Promote family-friendly policies with suppliers and other business partners.
10. Raise awareness among consumers and clients of the importance of early childhood development, including through their own social media and other channels.
The business case is clear: Investing in family-friendly policies helps improve workforce productivity and a company’s ability to attract, motivate and retain employees.
Family-friendly policies benefits employers, families and society. Investing in children at the start of their lives is not only the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do because early moments matter.