CNN has a great story of a small company who tried an innovative solution when four key employees became pregnant at around the same time:
We had fewer than 25 employees at the time, and the soon-to-be moms were our head of publicity, a media buyer, the manager of print production, and a senior account executive. Each had client and supplier relationships that were vital to our business. Plus, conducting four executive searches at the same time would be costly.
So I decided to try something radical. A few months before they left for maternity leave, I invited the women to bring their babies to work when they returned.
The moms were so thrilled to be close to their babies that none ever dropped the ball when it came to work. When one had to run to a meeting, another babysat. We made sure employees who couldn’t stand the sound of crying babies didn’t sit near the “romper room.”
As we grew to become the $60-million-a-year company that we are today–we now have 150 employees who fill six historic homes in Austin and an office in New York City–additional moms and even dads brought their babies to work.
So far, 33 babies and a small army of dogs have “grown up” at our company. I can’t measure in hard numbers the impact of the goodwill that our family-friendly policies have had on productivity, but our local newspaper routinely names T3 as one of the best places to work in Austin.
They do have one rule, though: No goats!
I like this approach (to the babies, not the goats) and I think it has massive potential. It reframes the situation from “Oh no, one of my employees is pregnant, that’ll create huge problems” to “yes, pregnant employee, what fun!”
Kirsten Stendevad, a friend of mine, has written two books on the subject. One is about motherhood and how it can be a career boost, rather than a hindrance. The other she co-wrote with her husband Esben Kjaer, and it takes a similar approach to being a father. Both books are only available in danish so far.
All of this is yet another case of self-fullfilling prophecy. When you approach something as a problem, you make it a problem. Regard the same situation as an opportunity and, well… this story speaks for itself.
May I add: “Yes! Crisitunity!”