A Patagonia employee breastfed her baby in a meeting. Her male VP's response is a masterclass in workplace values.
Talk about a "family-friendly workplace."
Patagonia has taken "family-friendly workplace" to a whole new level, and people are noticing.
The outdoor clothing and gear company has made a name for itself by putting its money where its mouth is. From creating backpacks out of 100% recycled materials to donating their $10 million tax cut to fight climate change to refusing to sell to clients who harm the environment, Patagonia leads by example.
That dedication to principle is clear in its policies for parents who work for them, as evidenced by a viral post from Holly Morisette, a recruiter at Patagonia.
Morisette wrote on LinkedIn:
"While nursing my baby during a morning meeting the other day after a recent return from maternity leave, our VP (Dean Carter) turned to me and said...'There is no way to measure the ROI on that. But I know it's huge.'
It got me thinking...with the immense gratitude that I have for on-site childcare at Patagonia comes a responsibility to share a 'call to action'. A PSA to tout the extraordinary benefits that come along with not asking employees to make the gut wrenching decision to either leave their jobs or leave their babies. TO HAVE TO LEAVE THEIR JOBS OR LEAVE THEIR BABIES. That perhaps just one person will brave the subject with their employer (big or small) in the hopes that it gets the wheels turning to think differently about how to truly support working families.
That with a bit of creativity, and a whole lot of guts, companies can create a workplace where mothers aren't hiding in broom closets pumping milk, but rather visiting their babies for large doses of love and serotonin before returning to their work and kicking ass.
It's no wonder that Patagonia has 100% retention of moms. Keeping them close to their babies keeps them engaged. And engaged mothers (and fathers!) get stuff done. Thank you, Patagonia, for leading the way. "
As if that's totally normal. As if everyone understands that working moms can be much more engaged and efficient in their jobs if they can feed their baby while they go over sales figures. As if the long-held belief that life and work must be completely separate is a construct that deserves to be challenged.
And then the comment from her male colleague about the ROI (Return on Investment) of breastfeeding—witty, considering the time and place, and yet so supportive.
On-site childcare so that parents don't have to choose between leaving their jobs or leaving their babies. Letting life integrate with work so that working families don't have to constantly feel torn in two different directions. Flexibility in meetings and schedules. Allowing for the natural rhythms and needs of breastfeeders. Making childcare as easy and accessible as possible so that employees can be more effective in their jobs.
All of this seems so profoundly logical, it's a wonder that more companies have not figured this out sooner. Clearly, it works. I mean, who has ever heard of a 100% retention rate for mothers?
Patagonia's got it goin' on. Let's hope more companies take their lead.