Employers' readiness for the mother-friendly workplace: an elicitation study

Authors


Yeon K. Bai, Department of Health and Nutrition Science, Montclair State University, 1 Normal Ave, Montclair, NJ 07043, USA. E-mail: baiy@mail.montclair.edu

Abstract

Currently over half of mothers of infants under 1-year-old are in the workforce in the United States. These women face challenges to continue breastfeeding when they return to work 3 to 6 months post-partum. This study explored the perspectives of employers on mother-friendly environments to assess their readiness to provide breastfeeding accommodation using the elicitation under the theory of planned behaviour. Researchers conducted phone/in-person interviews with a convenient sample of 20 human resource managers from companies that had 500 or more employees in the New York metropolitan area in 2009. Content analyses identified the common concepts that represent underlying beliefs of the constructs of the theory. The demography of the participants is 40% male and 80% White, with mean ages of 34.3 ± 8.5 years. ‘Happy employees’ and ‘high retention rate and improved loyalty’ were the most frequently mentioned (95%) benefits to the company (behavioural beliefs). Supporters of a mother-friendly environment (normative beliefs) in the workplace included ‘mothers and expectant mothers (70%)’, and ‘managers supervising women and new mothers (55%)’. Most frequently mentioned company drawbacks (control beliefs) were ‘not cost effective (65%)’ and ‘time consuming (65%)’, followed by ‘perception of special favours for some (50%)’. Workplace breastfeeding promotion efforts can be successful by reinforcing positive beliefs and addressing the challenges associated with implementation of breastfeeding accommodation through education and other incentives such as recognition of model companies and tax breaks. The identified beliefs provide a basis for the development of a quantitative instrument to study workplace breastfeeding support further.

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