Working Mother works for … you?
November 16, 2007 | Advertising,Benefits,Ethics,Family,Health,Journalism,Work,Working Mother
What a teleconference! Oh, the things they plan to do! For you!
- Paid family leave?
- Paid sick leave?
- Paid vacation days?
- Portable, affordable health insurance?
- High-quality, affordable childcare and preschool?
:::Shh! Hear that? That’s the sound of corporate executives across the country having a collective heart attack.:::
Nah, not really. The teleconference was a platform for Working Mother to roll out its latest venture: to give “best of congress” awards every two years (starting in September 2008) to members of Congress “in recognition of their leadership in improving the quality of life for working families.”
But I’m jumping ahead. Here’s what happened.
Donna Klein, who earns $200,000 a year as founder and CEO of Corporate Voices, read her welcoming remarks and said we would hear from Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio, Working Mother Media CEO Carol Evans and Jami Taylor, a mother and activist. Klein tossed out some statistics — that the American workforce was under increasing pressure to meet the goals of a global economy and that childcare-related absences cost business $3 billion a year. (The $3 billion a year is a statistic from 1991 by an organization, Child Care Action Campaign, that apparently no longer exists.)
She mentioned that more than 30 bills dealing with family issues — FMLA, childcare-subsidy increases, workplace flexibility, etc. — were before Congress. She gave statistics about breastfeeding and encouraged working mothers to “advocate for lactation space” because “many employers are open to suggestions.”
Evans also talked about breastfeeding and lactation rooms. Which made me wonder … why are they so focused on lactation rooms?
Then I found this.
A full-page advertisement in Working Mother’s October 2007 issue by Medela, a major breast-pump manufacturer, said that Working Mother “teamed up with” Medela “to gain a better understanding of what the Working Mother 100 Best Companies are doing to help support their employees who are breastfeeding.” Medela offers — for a price — services to corporate clients through its Healthy Babies, Happy Moms, Inc. (That’s one of their corporate lactation rooms in the picture.)
Business ears perked up with the news in 2005 that 73 percent of mothers were breastfeeding. Considering that the United States has a high percentage of working mothers yet offers no guaranteed paid maternity leave … well, you do the math. What did Medela hear? Ka-ching! If maternity leaves were kept at the bare minimum or non-existent, Medela got to sell more breast pumps. Eh?
According to a Jan. 10, 2007, Wall Street Journal article, “it is all about business plans, market share and product placement.”
In another lift to sales, nursing products are being reconceived as fashion accessories. Celebrities have discussed their nursing protocols with the news media. When U.S. pump company Medela Inc., a unit of Medela Holding AG of Switzerland, sought to put its products on TV shows three years ago, it found no takers. Last fall, its pumps were included in story lines on “ER,” “Weeds,” and “The Office.”
(Medela, based in McHenry, Ill., is affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce via its membership in the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce.)
Back to the teleconference.
Pryce mentioned several initiatives before Congress (mortgage foreclosures, war on terror, health care, education, SCHIP) to illustrate “that Congress is always working on something that can affect you,” but she didn’t mention where she stood on any of the issues.
She also didn’t mention that she has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which should offer an idea on where she stands on issues important to employees and working families. Here’s her voting record. Here’s who gives her money.
Next up was Evans, who was introduced as having “surprising” news. Evans went through the list of lists her magazine publishes (100 best, best small companies, best law firms, etc.). Then she talked about a survey of 500 women that revealed the No. 1 reason they work was for money. The No. 2 “surprising” answer was to use talents and training. No. 3 was to be great role models for their children. (She didn’t give specifics of the survey, so I don’t know when or by whom it was conducted.)
Why was the No. 2 answer a stop-the-presses! surprise? Got me. What did she expect the answer to be? Besides, it wasn’t clear what this “surprise” had to do with advocacy.
Here are her suggestions for callers to “get involved.”
- Ask your company to apply for our list.
- Express your voice through our MomBlog (at workingmother.com, natch).
Next up was Jami Leigh Taylor with “an amazing story of courage and triumph.” Taylor explained that she had been working for a few years on availability and accessibility of maternity insurance. They paid $22,000 out-of-pocket for a healthy pregnancy with no complications because her husband’s company dropped its maternity coverage just before she had a baby. Here are her tips.
- Start with congressional staff. Make friends with the chief of staff.
- Attend events they are already scheduled to attend.
- Bring the kids! (Whisk them out if they get too fussy.)
- Look at it as a way to get dressed up and go out on a date!
The results of her BFF-ships with staffers? Has she gotten anyone to write legislation or pass laws? Dunno. She didn’t say.
After a few questions, the teleconference ended.
So what did we learn?
- Working Mother and Corporate Voices will give “best of congress” awards.
- Evans was surprised! that women work to use their talents and training.
- Ask your boss for a lactation room.
- Take the kids to meet your senator or representative!