Finding the Work/Life Balance is a Community Affair

In New Mexico, about 60% of children under 6 have all parents in the labor force. One of the greatest challenges working parents face is that we’re expected to parent like we don’t have a job and work like we don’t have children. This makes absolutely no sense, and I believe we can change this for all families in this decade.

Because parents rely on wages to feed their families, usually it’s their job that is prioritized, which in many cases means having to make tough choices about where to spend their time and energy. Parents need workplace support to avoid the things that contribute to our dismal outcomes for children in New Mexico. Support can include being able to take paid time off for school meetings/teacher conferences, for when you or a dependent is sick or for bonding with a newborn; and being allowed and encouraged to breastfeed or pump at work. 

There are many different yet aligned solutions to this challenge, including systemic change, workplace changes and cultural or societal norms changes. We need everyone to contribute to the solution: government, business, community and families. 

I contributed by starting an initiative called Family Friendly New Mexico, which encourages employers to adopt and implement policies such as paid leave, flexible work schedules, higher-than-average wages, and health and wellness benefits. We do this through peer support, an awards program, consulting services and learning opportunities. 

 

Family-friendly policies benefit both employees and employers. They positively impact the health, education, economic stability and job satisfaction of employees and their families while increasing sales, share value and productivity, and lowering costs by reducing absenteeism, turnover and health-related expenses for employers. Family-friendly workplace policies improve businesses, our workforce and our communities. And they are key to New Mexico’s economic development, playing an integral role in supporting the fiscal vitality of the state.

Family Friendly New Mexico provides educational resources to employers who want to implement family-friendly workplace policies and administers a recognition program to honor employers who demonstrate a commitment to family-friendly workplace policies.

There are seven categories of policies in the award program, including paid leave, health support, work schedules, economic support, pay equity, diversity and inclusion and community investment. 

The mission of Family Friendly New Mexico is to recognize and support employers that adopt and implement these policies, so that businesses, employees and their families can thrive. 

The Family Friendly Business Award program is open to any New Mexico business, organization, educational institution or governmental agency with two or more employees. It features a self-reporting, online form that walks applicants through a series of questions about the family-friendly workplace policies in place in their business/organization. These policies don’t have to be in writing as long as they are clearly communicated and applied to all employees. 

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Applicants are also asked to affirm that their policies (written or verbal) comply with the workplace laws in place in New Mexico. These are: the New Mexico Breastfeeding Law, the Promoting Financial Independence for Victims of Domestic Abuse Act, compliance with the New Mexico Fair Pay for Women Act, the New Mexico Human Rights Act and the Healthy Workplaces Act (going into effect July 1). After an applicant completes the online application, they learn immediately what level of award they have received. 

Once your business has been recognized as a Family Friendly Business, it will be recognized on our website and on social media. Businesses receive marketing materials, advertising opportunities, event invitations, access to a support network and other perks.

Businesses will also be invited to the annual awards luncheon, April 28 at Sandia Golf Club in Albuquerque. Apply now for recognition at nmfamilyfriendlybusiness.org.

 

Giovanna Rossi, founder of the Family Friendly Business Award, is the president of Collective Action Strategies, LLC, a consulting firm dedicated to improving the health and lives of women and families; the founder of Well Woman Life; and host of the Well Woman Show on National Public Radio. 

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