Employee retention: Company initiatives to support women in business

Jul 28, 2015 | Blogs

Employee retention is a serious topic at many companies. After all, what business wants to watch employees they have recruited, trained, and developed walk away? Companies are constantly looking for new, innovative ways to attract and keep the best talent onboard.  In fact, a recent survey shows two-thirds of human resource respondents reported they are updating their engagement and retention strategies.

Despite the special attention to this issue, women continue to leak out of the talent pipeline. While there are a myriad of drivers for this brain drain, a lack of family-friendly initiatives is a certain contributor in the US market. According to the New York Times, almost two-thirds of non-working women cite family responsibilities as one of the main reasons they are not in the job market. Moreover, of women who identify as homemakers, nearly 75% said they would consider rejoining the workforce if they could have flexible arrangements.

It’s no wonder that companies are beginning to ask: how can we plug this leak? When it comes to family-friendly initiatives, some companies are beginning to introduce thoughtful, innovative new approaches to support women in business. I’m inspired by a few examples:

  • Paying for family-leave: Google has a family-leave policy that sets a global minimum for paid maternity leave, ensuring biological moms receive at least 18 weeks of paid maternity leave no matter what part of the world they’re working from. After the policy change in 2007, Google reports “returning moms  left at half the rate they were leaving previously” (The Atlantic, 2015)
  • Providing flexible working hours: Vodafone Group introduced a groundbreaking maternity leave policy that aims to support women transitioning back to work. For the first six months back from maternity leave, the company allows new moms to work 30 hours per week, but still receive full-time pay (Washington Post, 2015)
  • Supporting women who choose to breastfeed: IBM will soon launch a free breast milk delivery service for working mothers traveling on business. The service will pay for women who breastfeed to express ship their milk home (Fortune, 2015)
  • Offering opportunities to rejoin the workforce: Morgan Stanley’s Return to Work program offers a multi-week paid internship to experienced professionals who have taken a career break and would like re-enter the workforce.  Last year, 15 women were selected from a pool of over 500 applicants for the program.  Some participants may receive a full-time job offer upon completion. (Morgan Stanley corporate website)


These companies aren’t just introducing these initiatives for feel-good reasons.  At the end of the day, they understand that good opportunities for women are good for business.