Manchester, NH — Today, in Manchester, Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden joined local business leaders—Bill Whyte, CEO and founder of W.S. Badger Company Inc. in Gilsum; Howard Brodsky, chairman and co-CEO of CCA Global Partners in Manchester; Joseph Keefe, president and CEO of Pax World Management in Portsmouth; and Gary Hirshberg, chairman and former president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm in Londonderry—for a lunchtime conversation focused on making the economic and business case for quality child care, paid leave, and other policies that support families and strengthen the economy.
“As a nation, we often expect families—and women in particular—to face the challenges of raising families and striving for the middle class on their own. For example, child care for a New Hampshire family with an infant and a toddler averages more than $21,000 per year, and child care for an infant and a toddler is more expensive than median rent in every state,” said Tanden. “Too often, managers view family-friendly policies as a cost rather than a way to strengthen their businesses. But when families are left to cope on their own, it has a trickle-down effect on them and on our economy. Today, we’re hearing from four CEOs who know the value of family-friendly workplace policies—not only to their employees but also to their businesses.”
“To me, it makes perfect sense for all businesses to implement powerful, comprehensive family-friendly policies,” said Whyte, CEO of New Hampshire-based W.S. Badger Company Inc., provider of Badger Balm and other organic and natural skin care products. “Badger has a Babies at Work program and subsidized child care and offers extended, job-protected maternity leave. We pay a living wage, we share profits, and we serve a free daily organic lunch. But even when we had limited funds, we found simple, inexpensive ways to support the healthy family life for our employees. For example, we’ve always held to the concepts of a real 40-hour workweek. Think of caring for your employees as a wise investment that can’t fail. And the returns will exceed your wildest expectations.”
“Research confirms what many of us know from experience: Family-friendly practices make better workplaces, and companies that are better workplaces perform better financially,” said Keefe, president and CEO of Pax World, a New Hampshire-based investment management company. “Providing employees with family-friendly benefits such as parental leave is something that helps Pax World—and can help any company—attract, retain, and develop great people and a great workplace, which benefits our employees, their families, and our bottom line.”
“High-road employment practices such as paid leave and sick days help companies grow, but more importantly, they help our economy grow,” said David Levine, co-founder, president, and CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council, which has a membership network spanning 200,000 businesses across the country. “That’s why policymakers across the country should listen to business leaders such as these and make these practices the law of the land.”
Today’s discussion was co-hosted by CAP’s WithinReach campaign, the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation, and the American Sustainable Business Council. WithinReach is a new campaign from CAP centered on elevating and creating momentum around the need to put high-quality child care and pre-K within reach for kids, for families, and for the economy as part of the national debate.
High-quality early education prepares children for school, gives families a fair shot to make ends meet and get ahead, and allows parents to participate more fully in the workforce, thereby strengthening the U.S. economy. But skyrocketing costs are putting child care and preschool out of reach for millions of hard-working Americans, leaving families struggling to choose between their paycheck and their child’s care. In the 12-year period from 2000 to 2012, child care costs for a typical middle-class family grew $2,300. In its 2014 report “The Middle-Class Squeeze,” CAP detailed the economic pressures felt by working- and middle-class families as a result of the growing costs of child care and other early childhood programs and supports.
Earlier this year, CAP released a new proposal that would provide a High-Quality Child Care Tax Credit to help low-income and middle-class families afford child care. The proposal would expand child care access to roughly 6 million children under age 5 in the United States, increasing the current service level more than fourfold while supporting financial security for working families. In 2013, CAP released a proposal to make high-quality preschool universally accessible to all 3- and 4-year-old children—legislation that has since been introduced in Congress as the Strong Start for America’s Children Act.
For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.478.6331.