Family Friendly Policies

Business activities touch the lives of billions of working parents and children, both in a company’s own operations and global supply chains. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into sharp relief the need for comprehensive Government and business policies that protect and support workers and their families during and after the crisis. Family-friendly policies (FFPs) — including paid parental and sick leave, breastfeeding support, affordable and quality childcare, flexible work arrangements and access to minimum social protection measures — are essential in this regard. Such policies have proven beneficial to children and working parents, especially women, and the business benefits are clear as well.

Co-organized with UNICEF, this special UN Global Compact Academy session convenes companies and experts to share their reasons and examples to illustrate the value of family-friendly workplaces and the varied ways businesses of all sizes can implement policies to support their employees with families. Participants should expect to receive insights from this session on how to develop effective strategies to design and implement family-friendly policies and guidance on how these policies will enhance core business objectives.

Session 1: 

Speakers Include: 

  • Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director, UN Global Compact
  • Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF
  • Chris Kip, Global Child Rights and Business Specialist, UNICEF
  • Faye Shortland, Talent Director, Deloitte
  • Laura Addati, Policy Specialist on Women and Economic Empowerment, ILO
  • Hugues de Beaugrenier, Director, Social Protection, L'Oréal

Session 2: 

Speakers Include: 

  • Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director, UN Global Compact
  • Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF
  • Amy Luinstra, EAP Lead, Gender and Economic Inclusion, IFC
  • Gayathri Ramamurthy, Senior Director, Lead, Diversity & Inclusion, Capgemini India
  • Ida Hyllested, Regional Child Rights and Business Manager, UNICEF
  • Laura Addati, Policy Specialist on Women and Economic Empowerment, ILO

What We Learned

A commitment from top leadership

  • Creating top-level management buy-in is critical. At the same time, bottom-up approaches can help ensure that family-friendly policies respond to different and evolving contextual needs and situations.

A set of gender sensitive and worker-centric policies

  • Companies should adopt and implement gender-sensitive, family-friendly policies that are underpinned by inclusivity and equity, and are comprehensive enough to accommodate diverse worker needs and circumstances. In this way, policies can more meaningfully advance gender equality and organizational targets around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Importantly, family-friendly policies must be accompanied by a culture of respect and equality.
  • Family-friendly policies should be worker-centric and predicated on consultative, meaningful needs assessments. Voice, dialogue and collaboration are key. Unlocking your employee’s potential requires addressing their specific needs. Look both internally to understand worker preferences and contexts as well as externally to learn from other businesses. Internal gap analysis and external competitor benchmarking can be good places to start.

Policies informed by data that is evidence-based and fit-for-purpose

  • Data is essential for designing and implementing policies that are evidence-based and fit-for-purpose. Create and enhance ways of elevating worker voice (via social dialogue, committees, surveys, etc.) and tracking progress and measuring impact. Continuously monitor policy implementation, uptake and outcomes. Adopt, assess and, if needed, adjust.

A need to assess success of implementation

  • Results can be captured in various ways: through standardized metrics but also human interest success stories that are personal and relatable. Return on investment (ROI) analyses can provide a compelling business case narrative.

Collaboration with suppliers and stakeholders - cascading good practices down the chain

  • Family-friendly policies should extend beyond direct employees and operations into business relationships and supply chains. Collaborating with business partners, contractors and suppliers is critical to reach more workers, particularly those in non-standard forms of employment and the informal sector. Often, these workers are the ones who stand to gain the most.
  • Collaboration with governments can be critical – by identifying joint solutions and advocating for improved policy and regulatory environments that benefit workers, caregivers and families. Enhancing the reach and access of family-friendly policies can also be supported through fair tax contributions that finance public social protection systems.

Recommended Resources: 

Family-Friendly Workplaces: Policies and Practices to Advance Decent Work in Global Supply Chains (UNICEF and UN Global Compact, 2020)

Family-Friendly Policies and Other Good Workplace Practices in the Context of COVID-19 (UNICEF, ILO and UN Women, 2021)

Handbook for Business on Family-Friendly Policies (UNICEF, 2020) 

Achieving Work-life Balance: Taking Action in Your Company (Online Module for Companies). (ILO and UN Women)

You can find out more about family-friendly policies here

  • News