Facility Solutions: Space for nursing moms

CUs and their employees both win with thoughtful handling of lactation needs.

by. Paul Seibert, CMC

Recently, National Public Radio in Seattle conducted an informal survey asking listeners who are or have been new moms to send them photos to post on its website showing where the moms have expressed breast milk at the office. The responses ranged from near luxury surroundings at the Gates Foundation to depressing photos of a wooden chair in a storage room and the back seat of a car. One woman showed the fabric panels she placed around her desk for “privacy.”

It’s not always easy for a company to provide a dedicated mother’s room. In the credit union world, we have two main environments: operations centers (offices) and branches. Typically operations centers have sufficient space for a dedicated mother’s room; often branches do not. As branch size is being cut by 50 percent to 80 percent, adding a mother’s room can be tricky. And retrofitting older branches isn’t always easy either.

However, laws have set up some requirements in this arena that CUs need to be aware of. Plus, making it easy to be a working mom can make great business sense. Some great people might come back to the office sooner after maternity leave, and be more productive while they are there. Additionally, providing a lactation room is an expression of caring for staff and the importance of families. It could be a factor in a desirable candidate’s decision to join your organization.

OK, I am a guy writing about a women’s issue; however, providing a reasonable space to support a nursing mom impresses me as the right thing to do.

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