North Carolina Business, Community Leaders Join Advisory Council on Creating Family Forward Workplaces

Prominent business and community leaders and health experts from across North Carolina will help create a guide designed to inspire employers to incorporate more family-friendly practices for their employees.

Between now and December, the Family Forward NC Advisory Council will assist the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) to further the work of Family Forward NC.

Family Forward NC Advisory Council member Kit Cramer, President of the Asheville Chamber, said it’s important for businesses to consider family-friendly practices for the short-term goal of attracting and retaining employees and for the long-term goal of positively impacting the future workforce.

“Family-friendly benefits are a win-win. They help businesses attract and retain top talent, which is vitally important in today’s tight labor market, and they also lead to significant positive health outcomes for children, who are the future of our workforce,” Cramer said.

Family Forward NC Advisory Council members are:

  • Kit Cramer, President and CEO, Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Andrew Herdman, Vice-President of Human Resources for US Operations, Mayne Pharma
  • Velva Jenkins, Vice-President, Continuing Education, Economic & Workforce Development, Brunswick Community College
  • Jessica Lowery Clark, Executive Director, Robeson County Partnership for Children
  • Fara Palumbo, Chief People Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
  • Luis Pastor, President and CEO, Cooperativa Latino Credit Union
  • Alison Stuebe, Associate Professor, UNC – Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Associate Professor, UNC – Department of Maternal and Child Health; Distinguished Scholar in Infant and Young Child Feeding
  • Lucy Talley, Regional Vice-President, South Atlantic Publishing Group, GateHouse Media
  • Sheilah Sutton, City Commissioner, Town of Rolesville
  • Betsey Tilson, State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer, NC Department of Health and Human Resources

“We are grateful to have such a powerhouse group of leaders guiding this work,” said NCECF Executive Director Tracy Zimmerman. “Family-friendly workplaces are a win for everyone. They support young children’s healthy development, and they make businesses more competitive. The contribution of these leaders will be invaluable in meeting the ultimate goal of Family Forward NC – to make North Carolina a state that businesses want to come to, where families want to live and where employees want to work.”

The Advisory Council is one of three ways NCECF is gathering data for a guide to family-friendly workplaces, to be released by the end of the year. The guide will be a toolkit for businesses of all sizes with practical tips for implementing family-friendly workplace practices such as paid parental leave, flexible scheduling and accommodations for pregnant workers. Research shows these policies improve child health and well-being and keep businesses competitive.

In addition to engaging the Advisory Council, NCECF has conducted statewide research on current business practices and employer outlooks, along with NC employee opinions and needs when it comes to family-friendly benefits. Researchers from Artemis Strategy Group interviewed 300 employers across the state from a diverse mix of industries and business sizes. The firm also conducted an online survey of 300 employees from across the state. Highlights from the research include

  • 71 percent of North Carolina employers think that family-friendly policies have a positive impact on their organization.
  • Almost half of North Carolina employers plan on offering more family-friendly benefits this year.
  • 73 percent of NC employees would be more committed to their employer if they offered more family-friendly practices.
  • Over 90 percent of employees agree that family-friendly practices give companies a competitive advantage.
  • 94 percent of employees say that family-friendly policies help business attract and retain talent – and keep companies strong.
  • Younger employees with children are attracted to flexible schedules, paid maternity and paternity leave, breastfeeding accommodations and help affording child care.

NCECF is also conducting a series of Family Forward NC roundtable discussions across the state, bringing together employers and community leaders to discuss best practices for family-friendly workplaces and to brainstorm ideas for how to encourage employers in their area to incorporate more family-friendly practices.