Building Supportive Workplaces for Working Parents

Amy Henderson and Janet van Huysse are the co-founders at TendLab, an incubator and consultancy that is transforming our cultural narrative about parenthood and work. In this playbook, they share their strategies to build inclusive and supportive workplaces for working parents.

Amy Henderson is the author of “Tending: Parenthood and the Future of Work,” which explores  research around how parenting develops career-critical skills. Amy also founded the FamTech Founders Collaborative, a network of over 130 founders who are solving for the needs of caregivers, and is a mother to three kids.

Janet van Huysse is the Chief People Officer at Cloudflare, a 2000 employee cybersecurity company. She has been at Cloudflare since 2016 and led them through hypergrowth and their IPO.

Table of Contents:

  1. Why should companies care about supporting working parents? What does the data tell us?
  2. What actions did you take at Twitter and Cloudflare to support your working parents?
  3. What are the specific manager trainings you have used at Cloudflare and other orgs?
  4. What makes a manager supportive vs. unsupportive?
  5. How can Senior leadership set a supportive culture for working parents?
  6. How should a company set employees up for success upon return from parental leave?
  7. How do you collect data on caregiver status?

Excerpt: Building Supportive Workplaces for Working Parents

5. What are the most important things Senior leadership can do to set a supportive culture for working parents?

The most important thing the leadership team can do is to encourage employees to take their parental leave. For instance, 18 months ago Chevron implemented a policy of 8 weeks of bonding time for male employees following the birth of their child. For the first 6 months, nobody utilized this leave as there was an established culture of working through it. Senior leadership was the first to take this leave and then strongly encouraged others to follow suit thereafter, which has completely transformed the culture.

Our CEO at Cloudflare had a baby two-weeks ago and is on leave now! He was recently conflicted whether or not to join our upcoming all-hands meeting as they had an important agenda of a company-wide discussion of their previous board meeting. I expressed to our CEO that the most important thing he could do for our 2000 employees was to not attend the meeting and model to our employees that it is acceptable and expected to take their leave no matter what. 

In general, our expectation is that employees follow our leave policies as written, and anything less is asking for an exception. The assumption is that employees will take a long-leave and have a transition period on the way out and back in. If someone wants to take a shorter leave or transition period, they have to explicitly opt-in to doing such.

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