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Here’s to workplaces that embrace families and caregivers

Diana Santangelo

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Image: City of St. Pete Flickr.

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As an Italian-Greek-American with a large, loud and overly opinionated family, I’m fascinated with childhood stories from my friends about their own upbringing. Case in point, my best friend’s mother bought the toilet paper to “TP” the house of a classmate messing with her – juxtaposed with my mom, who made me go apologize to my offender when I was the recipient of a TP’d house. (If you don’t know what a TP’d house is, google it or ask the closest Midwesterner.)

Discovering this cracked us up as we understood how extraordinarily different our parents’ styles were. As different as they were, both our mothers wanted us to be strong, stable and do well in life – as do all parents and caregivers.

There is a critical piece to caregivers having the ability to be supportive and present parents – and much of that power lies in the hands of an employer. What happens when your child is sick? What happens when your salary isn’t high enough to cover the cost of daycare, and you have to choose between your career and caring for your child? What happens if the school calls that you need to pick up your sick child, but you run the risk of upsetting your supervisor? What happens if you become pregnant but can’t afford it and will have to go without pay? If a workplace doesn’t have family-friendly policies in place, families – and employers – pay the price.

Thankfully, there is an ever-growing body of employers who understand the importance of supporting their staff. Employers with family-friendly workplace policies are contributing to improving outcomes for our little ones by supporting the families that care for them. If the humanity aspect isn’t enough, keep in mind that research has overwhelmingly shown that family-friendly workplaces create value for employees, employers and the local economy – increasing completion of postsecondary education, raising labor force participation, increasing workforce productivity and helping businesses attract and retain talent; while ensuring that children have the chance to develop and begin kindergarten ready to thrive in school, work and life.

Let’s remember that family-friendly workplaces aren’t just for moms and dads. They are for all caregivers – human beings who love someone else that is central to their life. This can be an elderly person, a partner, a relative with health issues, and – yes, a dog mom. As a proud fur mom of an adorable 20 lb. mutt (don’t make me break out my mountain of photos), this matters in my workplace as well. I am beyond grateful that my own supervisor, Dr. Jesse Coraggio, has given me the flexibility to take care of my furball through his recent radiation treatments (he’s doing amazingly!) and has embraced the importance and value of supporting staff and creating an environment where I can feel at liberty to be both productive and take care of my own little one when he needs me.

Thrive by Five, powered by Community Foundation Tampa Bay, believes that companies and organizations with family-friendly policies, such as paid leave, healthcare plans, flexible schedules and competitive wages, deserve to be celebrated.

Community Foundation Tampa Bay serves as the convening partner in several cross-sector collaborative networks that come together under an aligned mission to effect systemic change together.

Thrive by Five is one of such Impact Initiatives bringing together organizations from education, philanthropy, business and government to focus on the vision that every child enters kindergarten ready to thrive in school and life!

Thrive by Five members seek to create equitable development for life-long success of the “whole child” ages 0-5, and we accomplish this by amplifying services and supports available to families and their little ones and by promoting family-friendly work policies. We need you to help us share this opportunity with businesses and nonprofits within our community, and we want to celebrate them this coming October at our Family Friendly Business Awards. (Shoutout to Synovus Bank for their sponsorship!)

So spread the word and let’s all make sure Tampa Bay is full of thriving businesses that support their employees and their families. That’s the Tampa Bay we all want to be a part of!

To apply and to learn more, visit https://familyfriendlytampabay.org/. Applications are accepted through Sept. 30. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out directly to Dr. Diana Santangelo at dsantangelo@cftampabay.org

Dr. Diana Santangelo is the Director of Thrive by Five.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Diana Santangelo

    Diana Santangelo

    October 5, 2023at9:15 am

    Thank you, Haley! If you’d like to learn more about the work of Thrive by Five and this initiative, please don’t hesitate to reach out at https://tb5p.org/contact/

  2. Avatar

    Haley

    September 15, 2023at7:41 am

    This initiative is critical to retaining talent in the workplace. Thank you for featuring this.

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