Being a parent shouldn't have to stand in the way of your job, but too many workplaces put people in the difficult position of having to choose between their careers and their families. In order to avoid such situations, though, some companies are paying to ship employees' breastmilk when they travel for work. This means that new parents will have an easier time keeping up with all the demands of their job while still being able to parent their kids however they see fit.
According to Fortune, the latest company to adopt this policy is Latham & Watkins, a law firm that will now ship the breastmilk of any employees in its 30 offices around the world when they go on business trips. Employees who opt in get a cooler and nursing bags sent to their hotel, and after they fill it up, the cooler can be shipped anywhere in the world.
Hayley Gladstone, global co-chair of Latham’s Parent Lawyers Group, told Fortune that she hopes this will make it easier for new moms to transition back to work, which can become especially complicated when their jobs involve traveling. Several companies already do this, including Twitter, the tech giant IBM, and the consulting firm Accenture.
There's a long-standing debate about whether women can "have it all" — that is, be devoted to their families and be as successful at work as they were before having kids. Recently, artist Hein Koh shared a photo of herself breastfeeding while working and chimed in on this question. Being a mom, she wrote, only gave her new things to make art about and forced her to become more efficient.
Emissaries Founder Michelle Meyer started the website "Pregnant Bosses" to make a similar point: The women she has interviewed have gained new perspectives and skills that help them with their jobs since they've become pregnant.
So why aren't we hearing more stories like these ones? Why is it that the United States saw over 5,000 pregnancy discrimination suits in 2013 alone?
One of the reasons we have the idea that parenthood hinders employees' — particularly women's — work is that workplaces make things difficult for parents. The United States is still one of the only countries where people receive no guaranteed paid parental leave. Additionally, very few workplaces provide childcare or places where parents can breastfeed or pump breastmilk, let alone mechanisms to ship it.
Shipping breastmilk is just one small piece of the puzzle, but it does send an important message: That the needs of working parents are worth accommodating.