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Pregnancy-Friendly Workplace Is Key to Retaining Skilled Workers
Date:12/12/2007

Luncheon Highlights Best Practices for Mothers and Babies

NEW YORK, Dec. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With more than 2 million women in the labor force having a baby every year, businesses must make their work environment welcoming to pregnant women or risk losing skilled employees, the March of Dimes says.

Today, women of child-bearing age comprise 46 percent of the workforce. Every year, almost 5 percent of these women will deliver a baby. This accounts for almost 50 percent of all births in the U.S. While the decision to work during and after pregnancy often is framed as a choice for women, some lack the finances to be able to stay home, while others find the work environment hostile and are forced to quit.

It is for this reason that women need answers to questions such as "Can new moms make the transition from work to home and back?" And, "What benefit is there for businesses in helping pregnant women stay healthy and continue working?"

An estimated 90 percent of all workplaces with 50 or more employees have some form of health promotion program, according to the March of Dimes "Healthy Babies, Healthy Business" (HBHB) initiative. Several studies reported a cost-benefit ratio from health care costs savings averaging $3.48 for every dollar spent on programs. Others that calculated cost-benefit ratios based on combined savings from reduced health care costs and absenteeism found an average savings of $4.30 for every dollar spent on programs. The March of Dimes strongly believes it makes good business sense, a more compassionate working environment and happy employees to offer health promotion programs.

As we prepare to move forward in the 21st century, women - and pregnant women in the workforce - need to know that businesses not only care about them but are doing something to make their worklife more comfortable, meaningful and less stressful.

The March of Dimes today presented a lively panel discussion in New York City during a National Communications Advisory Council (NCAC) luncheon entitled "Pregnancy & The Workplace: Best Practices for Mothers and Babies." The event was held at the Conde Nast Building at 4 Times Square. Gretchen Carlson, co-anchor of "Fox & Friends" on the FOX News Channel, moderated the discussion.

The panel included:

-- Tammy Palazzo, Vice President, Research and Women's Initiatives for Working Mother Media. The magazine publishes its annual "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" issue every fall.

-- Victoria Dickson, Director of Employee Health & Wellness for CIGNA. Earlier this year, CIGNA implemented the March of Dimes "Healthy Babies, Healthy Business" (HBHB) program, a multi-dimensional Internet-based health education program, on the company's "My CIGNA" pages for subscribers.

-- Kathryn Phillips Campbell, co-author of a report by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), which represents many of the Fortune 500 companies. The NBGH issued its Maternal and Family Model Benefit Plan last month, with several sections dealing with pregnancy in the workplace.

-- Richard Schwarz, M.D., Vice Chairman of Clinical Affairs, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Maimonides Medical Center in New York. He is an obstetric consultant to the March of Dimes and past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish language Web site at nacersano.org.


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SOURCE March of Dimes
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