Data Supports Investment in Family Friendly Workplace Policies

Giovanna RossiBlog

In 2016, I traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the Work and Family Researchers Network bi-annual conference — a gathering  of hundreds, if not thousands, of international researchers and practitioners that meet every other year to understand and improve workplaces for families. I had traveled to D.C. over the previous 20 years at least once a year, but this was different. This was the first time I was there representing Family Friendly New Mexico, an organization I founded to support businesses to adopt and implement family friendly workplace policies so that families and businesses could thrive.

As I wandered the halls viewing the impressive research, I made a commitment to returning in 2018 as a presenter. I wanted to let these researchers know about the amazing “boots on the ground” work we were doing in New Mexico. Fast forward to 2018, our proposal was accepted and I attended the conference to present our program with team member Susan Wilson. When we were asked about what we were finding in terms of the data and outcomes of our program, I made another commitment – to attend the next conference in 2020 and present our findings. Our proposal was accepted and we started preparing, only to have the conference and our travel plans cancelled due to COVID-19.

On January 8, 2021 Family Friendly New Mexico’s rescheduled presentation went live to researchers and practitioners all across the world. Here is a summary of what our COO, Julianna Silva, and I presented:

The Family Friendly New Mexico dataset includes 237 New Mexico businesses with workplace policies such as paid leave, flexible work schedules, telecommuting, higher than average wages, child care assistance and health/wellness benefits for employees and their families. These businesses employ 125,340 people in our state (108,723 full-time and 16,780 part-time). Gold was the highest award level achieved by roughly two-thirds of the businesses, while the Platinum award level, established in 2019 for the 2020 award cycle, was achieved by almost 20%.

Which industries and business sizes respond better to outreach and education regarding family friendly workplace policies?

Sixty-four businesses that advanced and 173 businesses that did not advance provided complete data on their full and part-time employment. Businesses that advanced represented 69,615 employees while those that did not advance represented 55,930 employees. Businesses that advanced had a lower ratio of full-time to part-time employees than businesses that did not advance.

Advancement within the FFNM award system is another indicator of the degree to which businesses are responsive to family friendly education and outreach. Relative to businesses that did not advance, businesses that advanced:

  • Had lower ratios of full-time to part-time employees
  • Paid higher average wages
  • Were more likely to be in Construction, Information, and Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services Sectors
  • Were less likely to be in the “Other Services” sector, which includes most community non-profits and personal service providers

Businesses that advanced were more likely than those that did not advance to pay wages in excess of $30/hour and were less likely than stationary businesses to pay employees less than $10/hour. Sixty percent of employees of businesses that advanced made over $30/hour, while only 24% of employees of non-advancing businesses earned that much.

How many businesses added family friendly workplace policies after engaging with the initiative (moved up a level or two levels)?

Sixty-two awardees (26%) advanced by one level during their engagement with FFNM while the majority of awardees (72%) have remained at the level they attained upon first applying for the FFNM award. Two awardees (<1%) advanced by two levels.

How many low-income earners have access to family friendly workplace policies?

Workers earning $14/hour or less made up 14% of all workers in FFNM businesses.

Low wage workers make up over half of employees in FFNM businesses in the following sectors: Administrative, Waste Management & Remediation Services, Accommodation and Food Services, and Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation.

The data confirms the challenges we have identified:

  • Businesses with more full time employees were able to advance
  • Employees at lower wages don’t have access to as many family friendly workplace policies
  • Large businesses add more family friendly workplace policies than small businesses
  • More outreach, education and support is needed to help businesses “level up”
  • In order to impact more low wage employees, we must continue to reach and support more businesses in the accommodation/food, arts/entertainment and retail sectors.

Our Next Steps
We’re committed to finding solutions to these questions and we see some of our future work in the following two areas:

  • Increase education/outreach to businesses with low-wage and part-time employees and to small businesses
  • Engage businesses in the industries that we know employ a high percentage of low-income parents of young children:
    • Food & Accommodation
    • Construction
    • Healthcare & Social Assistance
    • Education
    • Government

While it wasn’t the experience we had anticipated, we were able to connect with researchers and practitioners all across the globe to find solutions to the most challenging questions in the area of work and life. And we look forward to continuing our work and deepening our understanding of how we can impact more workers in New Mexico so that families and businesses can thrive.


About the author:

Giovanna Rossi
Giovanna is a leadership consultant and results coach with 20+ years working with entrepreneurs, government and non-profits to improve the lives of women and families. She holds a Master of Science degree in Public Policy from the London School of Economics and is the founder of the Family Friendly Business Award® and host of The Well Woman Show on KUNM and NPR.


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