According to a survey released on Wednesday, nearly half of mothers with young children who left the workforce cited childcare as a reason for relocation, and 69% of job seekers said childcare benefits childhood might influence their decision on where to work.
The survey of more than 1,000 workers, from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company and Marshall Plan for Moms, a campaign focused on the economic participation of mothers, adds to Research explore how the lack of childcare continues to drag the economy and tighten an already hot job market.
“Companies are looking for talent,” said Reshma Saujani, who founded Marshall Plan for Moms and Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization aimed at bridging the gender gap in technology. “Our report shows that it is only possible to attract, retain and advance women in the workforce by offering childcare benefits.”
Childcare has long been either too scarce or too expensive for most families. And during the pandemic, the industry more or less collapsedsince nurseries have struggled to stay open and childcare workers left en masse.
Many executives and childcare activists had hoped that President Biden’s vast infrastructure plan would provide industry support. But the reduced invoice it was converted into law without major investments in childcare. Ms. Saujani says the burden is now on the private sector.
Most wage and hourly workers do not have access to childcare benefits. 6% of hourly workers surveyed and 16% of employees said they had access to childcare subsidies. The same percentage of hourly workers, and even fewer wage earners, reported that their employer provided backup childcare or offered flexible pre-tax spending accounts that could be used to pay for care. About 30% of respondents said they have flexible working hours.
Ms. Saujani’s campaign is forming a business coalition that includes Bank of America, Patagonia and Archewell, the production company founded by Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. To sign up, companies must offer a childcare subsidy or benefit or intend to provide one, Ms. Saujani said. Once they join the coalition, companies can share and learn best practices from each other.
Synchrony Bank, which is part of the coalition, found that offering its employees creative options for childcare has led to increased job satisfaction and an influx of job applications, said Carol Juel, Chief Technology and Company Operating Officer.
In the summer of 2020, the company created a virtual summer camp, entrusting their employees’ high school and college children with the task of keeping 3,700 campers busy in exchange for mentoring training and college credit. And the company would “send out the next week’s schedule every Friday so that workers could plan their meetings around it,” Ms. Juel said.
Fast Retailing USA, which operates apparel brands including Uniqlo, Theory and Helmut Lang and is also part of the coalition, has begun offering monthly childcare subsidies of up to $ 1,000 to many employees, including store managers . The money can be spent in any way they see fit rather than being tied to specific suppliers.
“Many of the people who were involved in sponsoring this policy, including myself and some of our human resources managers, all have children of the same age,” said Serena Peck, Fast Retailing chief executive officer and general counsel. They were seeing firsthand how “the market was shrinking for good childcare” and “it felt like we had to do something”.