URBANDALE, Iowa — Nearly 15 – percent of the employees at the Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa are either expecting or have recently given birth. The organization says an office – wide baby boom forced them into finding a way to better support parents in the work place.
Chelsey DeRuyter is back to work after giving birth three months ago to her daughter, Finley. Working alongside her baby is a relief for the first time mom.
“You don`t like to think about not being with them all the time as they are growing. All the milestones they go by so fast, you really don`t want to miss any,” says DeRuyter, the Chief Development Officer for the organization.
The Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa recently launched it’s Infants – At – Work program. It allows for employees to bring their baby to work with them until they are six – months – old. The idea came from an expecting employee who wanted change.
“I think this is great way to say ‘hey were going to be the trail blazers and be the ones that actually step up and say we need to be taking care of our women and our mothers and our future girls,'” says Samantha Digmann.
The organization’s CEO, Beth Shelton, admits to wrestling with the idea at first, fearing a baby in the work place would be a disruption. However, she says the disruption would be minimal in comparison to the bigger issue women face in the work place.
“I think a lot of leaders lead with their heart and I think that in my case and for a lot of other women, we bring that lens of not only females in the workplace but often the lens of mother and motherhood and the challenges we face because of it,” she says.
A month into the new policy, Shelton says its boosting morale but predicts to see productivity slightly decline for those taking care of children at work but says that’s OK. “We are accepting of that because we know that it’s important to support employees and to retain the best talent,” she says.
For DeRuyter she says the new policy is making the transition back to work after maternity leave, easier.
“I feel so empowered to be a mom and to have a career,” she smiles. ”
The Infants – At – Work program is among a list of other unique parental leave benefits at Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa. Three years ago the organization added eight – weeks of paid parental leave for adoptive parents and paternity leave. It also offers paid bereavement in the case of a miscarriage.