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ADOPTION-FRIENDLY WORKPLACES


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April 30, 2007

ADOPTION-FRIENDLY WORKPLACES

Amy Dunkin

Today, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption released its list of the top 100 family-friendly workplaces. Heading the list is Providence (R.I.)-based Citizens Financial Group, which offers its employees up to an astounding $20,960 and one week of paid leave per adoption. I'm also happy to say our parent company, The McGraw-Hill Companies, was No. 9 on the list with a maximum reimbursement per adoption of $10,000 and 3 weeks of paid leave.

As regular readers of this blog know, corporate adoption benefits are a subject near and dear to my heart. After I adopted my first child in December 1996, I along with some coworkers successfully lobbied McGraw-Hill to begin offering adoption assistance in 1999. You can read about the saga in my blog post, The Benefits of Adoption. I also wrote a follow-up entry on National Adoption Month.

Congratulations to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (named after the late chairman of the Wendy's fast-food chain, who was himself an adoptee) for tirelessly promoting this cause and recognizing the outstanding corporate models.

02:55 PM

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Hmmmmm... One week of paid leave??? Three weeks of paid leave???

How about the same paid leave as a woman who gives birth? I got six weeks paid maternity leave when I adopted my daughter, the same as my co-worker who gave birth. (Our co-worker who had a c-section got eight weeks.) I also got a $3,000 benefit from my company's parent, Cox Enterprises.

The cash benefit is nice, but it is taxed. I was more appreciative of being treated as an equal with enough paid leave to focus on and bond with my baby.

Posted by: Patti at May 1, 2007 09:20 AM

Thanks for your comment, Patti. I agree with you totally. What company do you work for that has such a progressive policy?

Posted by: Amy Dunkin at May 1, 2007 10:24 AM

I work for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and received six weeks paid leave. My co-worker Kelly wrote the publisher four years ago asking why adoptive mothers didn't get paid maternity leave. A policy was then put in place, which I took advantage of. The $3,000 reimbursement comes from our parent company, Cox Enterprises. I received it after I finalized.

Employers should not get accolades for giving adoptive mothers cash

reimbursements in lieu of paid leave. I suspect adoptive parents generally cost the company less prior to the child's birth. We do not miss work for pre-natal doctor's appointments nor is the company on the hook for complications that occur prior to birth.

In short, I think you and the Dave Thomas Foundation are going too easy on companies that throw adoptive parents a bone. One week of paid leave?!?!? You deserved better!

Posted by: Patti at May 1, 2007 10:27 AM

Well, it's 3 weeks of paid leave and $10,000 at our company, which is a lot better than when I first adopted and it was zero.

I did the same thing 10 years ago as your co-worker, Kelly. I wrote to the CEO of McGraw-Hill asking why adoptive mothers didn't get maternity leave. The result was the policy we have today, which is available to both adoptive mothers and fathers (unlike a maternity leave.)

That said, I still think adoptive mothers should have parity with biological mothers when it comes to maternity leave. Many corporations are afraid to do that, however, because they think it will open up a legal can of worms.

Maternity leave falls under their disability policy and if you adopt, you are not considered "disabled" in the same way as when you give birth. So the corporations were afraid that if they gave maternity leave to adoptive mothers (who were not "disabled") they'd have to grant a comparable benefit to adoptive fathers, and biological fathers, for that matter, as well. Otherwise they might be sued for discrimination. Yet the last thing they wanted to do was start offering maternity and paternity leaves of equal length for all employees. Thus, the policy that exists at most companies today.

I'm not defending this thinking--just providing some historical perspective.

Posted by: Amy Dunkin at May 1, 2007 11:33 AM

Oh, sorry, I misread. I see three weeks for you and just one week for the company that ranked first. It looks like for the listing the foundation used the reimbursement as the first criteria and the paid leave as the default. Using that ranking method, Cox is not even in the top 100.

I covered a school board that was debating this issue and they brought up those same issues. What if an employee adopts an adult? What if an employee goes all Mia Farrow and keeps adopting kids? A lot of fear for a policy that in the end affects very few employees.

Anyway, thanks for bringing up the topic. Many people assume adoptive mothers always get treated the same as mothers who give birth.

Posted by: pattighezzi at May 1, 2007 02:16 PM

Dear Amy,

I read your blog on adoption-friendly workplaces and thought you would be interested in a survey recently conducted by Adecco – the global leader in workplace solutions – about American workers views on working moms.

It was revealed that:

67 percent do not feel that working moms have greater flexibility than other employees

88 percent admire working moms ability to balance work and family

59 percent of men age 35-44 say that working moms flex hours causes some resentment among coworkers

45 percent don’t think mom’s flex hours affect overall productivity

44 percent of moms who work say that flex time helps them be more productive

“Today’s mom isn’t only running the household, she’s also running for president,” says Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer at Adecco. “Years ago when I was ‘breaking the glass ceiling’, there weren’t as many options available to ease the balancing act of being a dedicated mom and a successful career woman. Having it all was a mantra preached, but not practiced throughout offices across the country. Today, workplaces are more sensitive to the needs of working moms but there is room for improvement.”

Posted by: Cynthia Greenberg at May 3, 2007 12:23 PM


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