Julianne Galloway wants her employees to care for their families.
Galloway, AT&T’s vice president of global benefits, searches and puts in place policies to accomplish that and support her employees.
“Ultimately, it’s about how do we have their back?” she said.
Galloway on May 4 was a speaker during the Best Place for Working Parents National Summit in the Stockyards. The summit, part of an initiative from the Fort Worth-based Miles Foundation, focused on how businesses can benefit working parents and their bottom line through family-friendly initiatives.
Mayor Mattie Parker sees the long-term success of the nation’s economy as dependent on good, family-friendly work policies.
She pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as why these initiatives are so important. They support all families, but especially working mothers, a group that saw employment numbers drop to levels not seen since the 1980s during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While employment levels have bounced back, the struggle and strain of balancing work and family still exists for working mothers and fathers, Parker said.
“The only way we’re going to get there is if private businesses step up to do the right thing,” the mayor said.
The city government plans to take steps to lead by example. The city’s 2023-24 budget will call for an increase in parental leave from six weeks to 12 weeks, Parker said.
However, not all decision-makers in the state and federal government support improved family-friendly policies, at least not yet. Parker called on business leaders to show lawmakers the path forward.
“This issue should transcend party politics in so many ways,” she said.
On-site child care
Garrett Dolan, who works for Tyson Foods, asked the audience how many sent their children to a commercial child care center. A couple dozen hands shot up.
He then asked how many take their children with them to work and walk them to a child care center embedded in their workplace. Three people raised their hands.
Dolan is leading an effort at Tyson to bring on-site child care centers to the company’s processing plants. The company operates child care centers in Tennessee and Arkansas.
The child care services that Tyson will offer are expected to be high quality, affordable and fit the working schedule of parents.
Dolan expects employees to pay about $2 per hour for on-site child care services. He roughly estimated the full cost of care for each child is about $12,000, a cost that the Tennessee state government subsidizes.
Offering child care was a way for Tyson to attract workers and keep them, Dolan said. However, he emphasized this was an answer, but not the only way to solve labor shortages.
The cost of child care makes it unreachable for many working parents. That cost needs to be reduced to better support parts of the workforce, Dolan said. He also called on the government to get involved in child care.
“We need the cost of child care to be like the cost of school. It needs to be a social good,” Dolan said. “Government needs to reprioritize how it supports children going to school.”
‘Taking care of their families’
Galloway highlighted two policies that built up loyalty among AT&T employees.
One is the company’s doula program that connects parents with a professional before, during and after having a baby. AT&T has seen mothers who have used a doula are two times less likely to experience complications during labor, she said.
After birth, employees can continue to have a doula as a way to have support as they adjust to a newborn in their homes, Galloway said.
AT&T also rolled out a policy to allow employees to have time for caregiving, whether that’s caring for a sick child or taking an aging parent to a doctor appointment.
“We want our employees to feel comfortable taking care of their families,” Galloway said.
Disclosure: The Miles Foundation has been a financial supporter of the Fort Worth Report. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.
Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com or via Twitter.