Seven years since starting breastfeeding facilities at the headquarters, Safaricom is reaping the benefits from mothers, helping them resume work seamlessly. The company also faces less hitches and majority of the mothers resume work after the four months maternity leave.
The telco is East Africa’s most profitable company and is also leading the way in enhancing mother friendly facilities at work.
“To show our support, we introduced Mothers’ Rooms in our offices to provide breastfeeding mothers with clean, comfortable, private facilities where they could express and store their breast milk while at work”, said the company in an email response.
According to the company, there was no brainer in convincing the leadership about the need for the facilities. They saw the need for a smooth transition to support the career women as beneficial to both parties.
“We are also cognizant of the fact that women bear different responsibilities in their roles as mothers, wives and career women.”
The Mother’s Room is a clean, airy room equipped with comfortable seats, a refrigerator, storage units and sockets for moms who use electric breast pumps.
In addition to the Mothers’ Rooms, other facilities include a fully equipped crèches and gyms. There is also “Mommy Time”, which allows new moms flexi-time as well as a shorter work week (30 hours instead of the normal 40 hours) so that they can spend time with their babies.
The company added that when the new moms return to work, they are able to settle in well and work comfortably knowing that they can take breaks to express breast milk and store it safely. They can also choose to come to work with their babies, leave them in the care of professional nannies at the crèche, and check on them whenever they feel like, giving them peace of mind.
“These facilities and a very progressive maternity policy have positively impacted our capacity to attract and retain the best female talent in the market, in part because they have helped us position ourselves as a company that is human and that supports the nurturing of the family institution.”
According to the US Breastfeeding Committee, a non-profit organization that receives state funding, breastfeeding at work ensures that employees miss work less often because breastfed infants are healthier. In addition, it lowers health care costs, and the support helps employers keep their best employees so that less money is spent hiring and training new employees. Furthermore, breastfeeding employees who are supported in the workplace report higher productivity and loyalty.
Safaricom female staff have also not experienced stigma. Joseph Ogutu, the Acting Director, Resources credits this to a progressive maternity policy and environment conducive to new mothers has ensured that female members of staff are not stigmatized because of breastfeeding.
He added that in addition to providing new mothers with a clean, comfortable and private space where they can express and hygienically store their breast milk, or visit and feed their children, they are also encouraged to bond with other moms, share their experiences and provide each other with the additional support required when transitioning from maternity leave back to work.
The initiative is in line to their commitment to driving gender equality and providing decent work and economic growth as outlined by the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Investing in these facilities and developing maternity policies that increase women’s chances of progressing in their careers are our way of driving these goals, and we are happy to be seeing the results of this.”
The company intends on introducing the rooms in the regional offices across the country to ensure female staff in the regions enjoy the same facilities.