April 25, is National Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Primarily created 26 years ago by the Ms. Foundation. This event is designed for girls and boys ages 8- 18 to learn new lessons about the workplace. Sarah Johal explains, why it’s important to advocate and implement, ‘take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day’, in every organization.
But what if your particular company dismisses the whole idea of welcoming kids into the workplace to observe what Mom and Dad or some other adult in their lives actually does all day?
Johal is a mother and marketing professional with experience advocating for parent-friendly programs and activities at high-profile organizations. She’s built brand experiences for Pandora Radio, Lyft, and Workday and is the current editor of the weekly newsletter exploring parenthood in media and tech, Underbelly.
In our conversation, Johal recalled her experience 3 years ago as a marketing manager at Lyft. The rideshare company’s lack at that time a parenting employee resource group.
“I had a pretty toxic experience when I returned to work after maternity leave,” Johal began, referring to a previous job. “A few months later, I decided to join Lyft, which seemed to provide a way healthier support system for all workers.”
So, Johal decided to voluntarily form an employee resource group, for parents and caregivers within the company.
She’d assumed the organization would be concerned enough to at least listen to the needs and perspectives of caregiver employees. But working parents at Lyft at the time had no ERG to call home.
But support for working parents was one goal that needed to be accommodated, Johal told me. She cited the value for both the organization and the employees who join ERGs, illustrated in a study by the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion.
“I also wanted to ensure no one else experienced biases — conscious or unconscious — simply because of their parent identity and ways of working,” Johal said.
Apparently, under the branding #UpLyft, Lyft had already adopted a framework for creating ERGs. At the time, the company also had other diversity and inclusion resource groups such as #UpLyftWomen for women in tech.
So, Johal made her move; she founded #UpLyftParents in February 2016. Moreover, under her leadership, the company posted it’s first “Take Our Kids to Work Day” across all domestic Lyft offices and changed its paid leave policy.
Interestingly, just two months later, Lyft ranked 12th on Father.ly’s “Best Places for Dads” to work. Though Johal and her ERG corrected the course of operations at Lyft. The group never would have happened had she not striven for incremental, quick wins.
“Take Our Kids to Work Day” (Lyft’s name for the event) was one of those wins.
Google, Facebook, and Visa are just a few of the organizations that have received praise from their employees and the media for their ‘Take Your Child To Work Day activities’.
In addition, this year’s observance has the theme “Workforce Development for All.” And in this regard, Johal offers advice to organizations on how they can explore launching a local observance of their own in just under three weeks and develop inspiration and skillsets for tomorrow’s leaders.
The tips she offers
Communication is key
“Regardless of your company only has two parents or 2,000, it’s worth expressing how your company embraces working families,” Johal says.
For companies, communicating that employees can bring their children in for the day is vital. Employees, meanwhile, should remember to express their interest in that event to their company’s human resources department. If not, employees can volunteer to serve as consultants, volunteer for various tasks, and provide additional programming.
Assess the landscape
“Audit [whether] it makes sense to celebrate the actual national holiday in April, or if it’s easier to execute in summer when more kids can likely visit on a weekday,” Johal advises, noting some parents’ reluctance to take their children out of school.
Money isn’t everything
“Zero-budget ideas are endless,” Johal says. One could be launching your organization’s first official parents’ ERG to mark the date, she says. But, another could be a parent-buddy mentorship program to foster relationships between non-caregivers and parents. A third could involve posting a group selfie with leadership on your social handles.
Therefore, simply participate and share your authentic stories (internally and externally)! Also, remember to use release forms for families to approve the use of their likeness.
Consider what innovative programming looks like for all ages
“If you have the budget, have a variety of programming that expresses your core values,” Johal says.
“At Lyft, we created career development and time-management panels for parents with newborns, led by executive sponsors. For older kids, we hosted themed Lego engineering workshops where families could design and build their visions of ‘future cities’ and autonomous car designs.”
In short, benefits might result through steps as that Johal advises, worker satisfaction might be one and increased productivity. Then, increased employee retention might be a third geared to giving the phrase “child-friendly” new meaning.