Inclusion Crusade 14 – Fostering Family and Cultivating Change in the Workplace
Host: Sarah Morgan
Welcome back to the Inclusion Crusade, where I am on a mission to create workplaces where employees feel safe, seen and supported. One episode at a time. This week we are discussing the traditions of new parents in the workplace, and how we can celebrate and include parents differently.
– Limiting beliefs of women in the workplace
– Inclusion of pregnancy and family culture
– Importance of giving back
– Achieving an inclusive culture at work
Thank you for listening! Remember to subscribe on your favorite podcast app!
Sarah Morgan 0:12
Hello, everyone, welcome to the HR Happy Hour Network. This is the Inclusion Crusade with me, Sarah Morgan, I am on a mission to create workplaces where employees feel safe, seen and supported one episode at a time. So today I have the privilege of speaking with Sue-Rose Read. Sue-Rose is the founder of Oneberrie innovations. And I am excited to have her here to talk about the work that she’s doing with Oneberrie, and what her crusade is for workplaces. So Sue-Rose, welcome to the show.
Sue-Rose Read 0:52
Thank you for having me.
Sarah Morgan 0:54
Tell the listeners about yourself and about your career journey. And what led you to becoming the founder of Oneberrie innovations.
Sue-Rose Read 1:06
Amazing. So hello, everybody. I’m Sue-Rose Read and the founder of Oneberrie mentioned, I didn’t start off as an entrepreneur. And I didn’t start off as making products for kids, especially bath products for kids. But my journey, I was an engineer by degree. And then I worked in business development and sales in oil and gas in Calgary, Alberta. I had a lot of experience dealing with large corporations, a lot of experience change with policy change and new programming on the business development. And and then, you know, taking the road less traveled, I met my husband who worked in a small town and ended up working remote. So I’ve really had, like a whole evolution of, you know, working in the corporate world working in the remote world having babies in both. And being a stem mom company, one very started with my first daughter, the idea of it started with my first daughter. And there was a lot of parts of motherhood that I really enjoyed. But but the one part that I actually loathed was consistently bath time, and the struggle of getting my baby out of the bath and the dynamics that, you know, it either took two people or I’m putting her on the counter on the floor. And and, you know, my engineering problem solving brain was like, this is this, I’m sure this isn’t just a pain point for me. And that’s what started one barrier. As a product brand. We created our patented hands free towel and, and have been developing the company from a brand point on bath linens for children that are actually innovative and actually functional, and not just being made on mass, my experience from being in the baby space and being in the gifting world, I was approached by a major tech company, who essentially wanted to continue to help recognize they’re expecting employees without bias or stigma. Like they really prioritized root, removing them the potential for anti recognition to their employees. And because I was in that corporate world, and as a mom became my crusade of you know, we we are continuously trying to build this workplace where, you know, women and men get to be leaders and executives, but we’re still looking at families as separate entities where these men and women instead of as a unit, and that anti recognition piece is still alive and well. And so that was our crossover into, you know, how do we how do we change? How do we change and level up the culture of pregnancy and family? And, and, and marry kind of our product brand and our mission to you know, the workplace that our children will inevitably be in?
Sarah Morgan 4:19
Yeah, yeah, that’s okay. So oil and gas sales and business development is such a like far cry from this entrepreneurial journey that you’re on. Now. What lessons or dare I say traumas do you carry with you from that time in your career? Because that is probably like, in my mind, is it? I picture it as being like the most kind of it’s the cat But holistic of all capitalistic enterprises? Are there things that you gathered from that that are helpful to your business now? And are there things that you experienced there that you have had to unlearn? As you’ve gone forward in your career journey?
Sue-Rose Read 5:20
I think the biggest I think the biggest thing is, I mean, being oil and gas and, and that business development like in major corporations, what I trauma, the trauma, if you will, is that it’s that we still live in, in a very archaic belief system. And I mean, I was told, even then, when I was doing business development with VP engineers, and like, these brilliant people, and people would tell me all the time, like, you don’t have any gray hair, you know, why are you why are you having these conversations with these executives? And and how are you on? How are you going to make change? Like, you’re too young? And of course, I’m a I’m a female engineer. And I don’t, I’m sure there has been progress. But that limiting belief, yeah, regardless of industry, as is still is still there, because we’re still in that workplace where, you know, there’s some companies that I talked to them, and even now with one very, that, you know, unfortunately, they, you know, families having babies and people with the capacity for pregnancy, having babies couldn’t stopping. You know, it’s like, really, it’s still happening, and we have to accommodate. And there still is that, it’s, you know, there still is that gap. But there is Peep there are people, you know, out of all these companies, there are people, and it might be one or a few that, that see the light or that are like, you know, yes, like let’s let’s explore, and, and no, we don’t want it. You know, I’ve been told even with one berry that that the work we do is super progressive. Because because they already hire 50% women, then like, absolutely. But it’s just so much more than that. What are we trying to build? Or is it just checkbox, right? Like, right now we’re at 50%. Like, there’s a lot of big companies that have 50% women. And so now we’re waiting for the ketchup before we do anything else.
Sarah Morgan 7:38
Yeah. Instead of not being done still with
Sue-Rose Read 7:42
Instead of keeping going. And and it’s not limited to industry? Yeah, sure. It’s still there.
Sarah Morgan 7:53
And so you also are based out of Canada, you mentioned that? What are some of the differences that you see in the way pregnancy and birth are treated in Canada, with workers versus how they are treated in the US? And then Are there similarities as well, and kind of what, what has been particularly surprising to you, as you’ve started this enterprise and had to explore more of what’s happening across borders, with the way that pregnancy and childbirth and families are treated in the workplace?
Sue-Rose Read 8:42
Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, being from Canada, like we have universal health care, I think the biggest difference is, you know, we have government resources and supports that allow parental leave to be 12 to 18 months. Can you imagine, like, it’s a 12 second, like, I could not imagine. You know, I think the max in the states right now is 16 weeks. For some companies, and and it’s not even a company decision, and it’s more an insurance decision. But the biggest differences are universal health care, allowing parents to take parental leave and, and supporting and offering resources to do that. Right, like it is it is a Canadian benefit. But what was surprising, you know, there’s huge progress in the states, like there’s huge progress in that companies who want to improve their pregnancy and family leave. But I bet I guess in the private world, that’s where that’s where the biggest surprise to me was in both places, is that regardless of the progress and regardless of you know, the belief is that is like I said before is that families are still being viewed as separate entities. So if one partner in the family works at company A and one partner works at Company B, neither of those companies see that family of those two people in a Thrive way. Like, yeah, they’re thriving as a family, then they’re thriving as humans, which makes them thrive as employees.
Sarah Morgan 10:26
Yeah. Oh, so how do you recommend that employers do more of that? And what how does? And how does the work that you’re doing with one berry help organizations to do that better.
Sue-Rose Read 10:42
So I think the biggest thing is, is to really look at what your pregnancy and family culture message is saying, if you are, you know, if you are still looking for that peer to peer or peer to manager recognition for family or for expecting parents, you the gap is that whoever you’re sharing it with might agree or disagree with you, you know, the intersectionality of family, and that the biases and stigmas that come with it, that comes into play? Because because it’s people telling other people, and unfortunately, we’re human. I mean, I’ve heard lots of stories of, you know, solo adoptive moms who told their manager and their manager was really mad, because how dare you make that choice for yourself? Yeah. Right. And then gatekeepers or, you know, same sex couples who are welcoming a baby, and they don’t want to become the q&a for all things, you know, same sex family, or how, why aren’t you carrying or who’s going to do that? And, and so all those people basically remove themselves from the culture, because because the alternative is having to share more than they want.
Sarah Morgan 12:08
It doesn’t feel safe in either regard, the potential for me to face judgment and criticism, or the potential for suddenly my life to be fodder for the office to be able to interrogate and pick apart neither one of those are ideal scenarios, when you’re already going through a major life change, and a major identity shift within your already existing intersecting identities.
Sue-Rose Read 12:45
Yeah, and it’s, and you know, a lot of people, a lot of comments that I have received very much focused on the women population, like the female population, and how it is pregnancy and family. But where we really want to start bringing up is, is the counterpart of that woman, like 4% of women are pregnant at any given time, that’s kind of the average. But those women who are pregnant could be, you know, it could be surrogate, it could be adoption, it could be, you know, a traditional family, but it’s also the man aspect of that family. You know, we have so many, we have this, we’re in this world, where men are just starting to unlearn sharing emotions and like talking to each other. In our, on our workforce, it’s there still, you know, if you’re a VP of a major company, a doesn’t matter who you tell, your executive assistant might celebrate you, but but you don’t want your productivity to be judged, or your commitment to be judged. And we are human. Right. And so it’s also we want, you know, we want, what about the men? What about what about, everybody has so many different characters in their life and in their roles, that, you know, 20 years from now, when my daughter is in the workforce, you know, I totally understand that.
Sue-Rose Read 14:17
For her to become a leader, she’s going to have to have a partner who might have to take care of family, there has to be a caretaker, it has to be a caregiver, we can all be breadwinners and caregivers, but bringing it back to the workplace. If the pot if the message is consistent, and the message says, we celebrate you, as a company, you don’t have to tell anybody. You don’t have to, you know, like Well, eventually no as a corporation, because there’s there’s all sorts of things that come into play. But, if the message is consistently, we don’t we know that you thrive as a family and so we’re going to support your family and we’re excited for you. You Without disclosure, then we can bring every we can bring more of those people into that pregnancy and family culture and and again, they are human, it is part like it is probably the most, the strongest inflection point in an a career as well. So, so and people remember, people remember whether they were celebrated or not, and when that anti recognition comes in, but if we can change it from to a culture aspect and to policy aspect instead of peer to peer bottom up, then then we are starting to make change for the workplace in the future that want want, you know, where women and men succeed equally, but they have to succeed at home and at work?
Sarah Morgan 15:49
Yeah, it’s about the total thriving of individuals and their families as a whole and making sure that we’re creating space, and giving proper consideration to total thriving, and not just because one of the things I think about and one of the things that comes up a lot when we start having conversations about pregnancy, childbirth family, is people who are child free. And it’s like, what do I what do I get, you know, but just because you’re a child free, doesn’t mean that you don’t have caregiver responsibilities that also have to be taken into account. And whether that you know, is you caring for older relatives, whether it’s you caring, helping your siblings, neighbors, friends, whoever with the caregiving responsibilities of their families, whether it might even be a pet, but ya know, your caregiving responsibilities, no matter what, and that’s a part of your thriving, that I think organizations, as you mentioned, have an opportunity to recognize and, and find ways to really make it normalized, and celebrated in the workplace without it having to be this dichotomy of feeling like I’m judged for, or I am on display for, as the poster child for whatever this unique identity experiences that I’m having.
Sue-Rose Read 17:29
For sure, yes. And that’s the bigger picture, right? Like, we are one element, we are the pregnancy and family element, but like you said, like caregiving crosses, a multitude of, of layers, you know, it could be for babies, it can be for children, it can be for parents, it can be for pets, and an ultimately, a corporation has to come, you know, has to understand that, again, these responsibilities are shared. And it is very expensive, especially, like, you look at statistics and stuff. And, you know, new parents are often in that, you know, new employee, like they are coming into the workforce they are they have the longest careers ahead of them. Yeah, when they’re in that building phase. And if it just takes one element, to feel for them to feel supported, and, you know, stood and recognized so that they can have that longevity, it’s expensive to train and rehire. And unwanted attrition with new parents is huge. Because it’s like, I, I’m going to this is too much, you know, like, I’m not going to bust myself to exhaustion, and not be recognized. And so it’s it is and then there’s the conversation of where does equality start? Right, and a lot of people like, it doesn’t start in the workforce, it starts in the family. And again, it brings back that consideration of family thriving, so so it is like we are, you know, equality, like a baby’s gonna learn about equality if both her parents are his parents are celebrated from their workforce, or they can say oh, like, for us, for example, Dad’s doing bath time because he has the tools to do so. And he’s empowered to do so. And and it might be even those simple things. Right, you know, for for whatever age is seeing that and so it’s it’s how do you bring this big picture? And yes, it might be super progressive, but you know, we have to get there at some point. You make the wave stay. Yeah, we’re in the strides stay.
Sarah Morgan 19:47
And I caution organizations against calling approaches like this super progressive, because I don’t I don’t think that, that that’s even the right word into your point, it really is about the pressed forward towards equality and inclusion, that these, this dynamic within the workplace has always existed. And so acknowledging this dynamic and reshaping retooling your culture to be more inclusive of it does not make you progressive, you’re actually, you’re actually catching up to where the world should have been. And so I think we need a different, a better in different worlds word when it comes to that and better and, for that matter. And I know you said earlier about organizations reaching demographic milestones where they’ll say, we’re 50% women were 20% LGBTQIA plus, and being like, alright, we’re going to chill right here for a minute and let the rest of society start to catch up to us, instead of then looking at this and saying, Yeah, this is a great accomplishment for us. Now what they insist kind of, you know, rest on the laurels of it, instead of pushing forward and looking at more innovative ways that we can achieve that quality that we’ve been missing for all this time. So one thing I want to make sure that the listeners are clear about is how one berry works. Um, I know that it’s, it’s an augmented benefit for employees who are expecting and provides gifts, you know, for them, but in a unique way. And so I want you to just talk to the listeners about how it works. And and if corporations and leaders that are listening, want to explore these possibilities with you, how do they get started?
Sue-Rose Read 22:10
Wonderful. So we’ve created our program to be very easy to integrate, because nobody needs more work. Right, like, in the HR in the wellness in the benefits department, they don’t need more work. So working with us is is a simple, companies would have access to their special code, employees would be able to go onto our website, pick their prints, ship it to their preferred address, and, and we just deal with the corporation. So based on utilization every month, we would invoice the business, but it’s completely self running on you know, the information being shared, the message of congratulation being shared. And, and then employees can come and, and claim their gift expecting employees can come claim their gift on the website. And like I said, we we we invoice for utilization, and then we do give reports on numbers. Privacy, like we tried to, you know, pregnancy and family is a private matter, it is a very sensitive topic as well. And so we do really protect that privacy for for employees. And we still we still require them, you know, to tell their employer, but we don’t give that information. But also we have created protocol and stuff to prevent abuse. Most people are good. And I know that’s a lot that’s a big concern for a lot of companies is how do we manage the potential for abuse, but, but most people aren’t, you know, like they’re not out to just take especially in in this celebratory recognition way. Right. And, and what we offer is our gift, our first bath bundle, so it is very functional. We are we are sustainably made in Canada.
Sue-Rose Read 24:18
We’re not just trying to give something that has a limited use and people will put in their recycling or the thrift store, right like babies have to be bathed and it is one of the most vulnerable experiences that a new parent can have. And so our first bath kit comes with, you know, our patented towels washcloth a bath swaddle lotion, a little hat and instructions. So it’s a gift that actually comes with that. And then and then if you know Company A has a onesie that they want to include with their logo we can include we can include those things says, well, so come on i Yeah, yeah, customize. We can customize, but it but it really is a way of a very easy way of saying, we know this is going to be hard. And we and we support you, and we’re here for you. And when you think of the million dollars, it does require for parental leave and for benefits, that it’s expensive. But comparative to that, you know, this all encompass if we, if we take the 4% of women having a baby at any given time and apply it to even a 10,000 person company or a 5000 person company, you know, it’s only 200 units. Yeah, but it makes all the difference. Because if you can prevent one of those parents from saying, I don’t feel supported here. And, you know, and then they stay or they make, they feel the human aspect of their work. That piece can make all the difference.
Sarah Morgan 26:03
Yeah, and one of the things, so just, you know, summarizing, you go to the company, they’re providing you to say, you know, we anticipate that we’ll have you mentioned, you know, if I’m a 5000 person company, yeah, then we’re gonna have, you know, 200 births in the life of our organization, and then four per year, per year, and then we’re expecting, so based on that, you know, we’re gonna purchase 200 of these packages. And then we will provide a code to our employees that they can use it anytime they don’t have to go to HR, their manager or anything like that the the code is available for them to download and use. And then you’re providing reports and billing on the aggregates where they know that, you know, we sent five packages out this month, but they don’t necessarily know, to where, right to who that is and where it went. But they know that based on the predictions, this has happened. And they can include extra things like company logoed items, instruct additional instructions.
Sue-Rose Read 27:21
Congratulations cards, and even one step further is a lot of a lot of companies already know what their percentages are their company. And so they might just say, okay, here, we’ve created this PIO, based on our numbers, and we’re going to pick off this program, and then we kick off the program. You know, it’s not, it’s not that they have to buy anything up front, it is just we have allotted this benefit. And, and then, you know, we are going to open it to our employees to claim and then yeah, it’s very simple, in that, it really, it just has to be okayed as a corporate belief. Yeah, and then once that’s done, you know, then we can move forward. And I’ve had companies, you know, our packages range from 60 to $75, based on what you want included, and how you want it to be shipped and where you want it to be shipped. And I’ve had companies that have said, you know, our benefits program is in the millions, and this is such a small fraction of that with a huge impact. So it’s, it’s, it becomes a simple step, it becomes a no brainer, but you do, but you do have to believe that the gap exists. And that there are that families need to be considered as a unit to get on any of the accomplishments, you know, that we want for women and for families. And to come to place, we need to make the small strides to say, Okay, this is we are family friendly. And this is the simplest way we can do it. And I mean, this is gonna sound super controversial, but but, you know, men have been able to, you know, make leaps and bounds for generations, because they have had a caregiver at home. And most of that most of those caregivers are women. And so if we want that same opportunity, it’s like how do we how do we make small strides you know, and it’s not going to change tomorrow it probably booboo will be years. But if we start now, then what are our children going to experience and that’s and it’s that direction?
Sarah Morgan 29:47
For sure. So want in these last few minutes together. I want to ask a couple things. The first and you kind of alluded to it earlier, but here the Inclusion Crusade we say, you know, we’re on a mission to make workplaces more inclusive, one episode at a time. Oneberrie is your one at a time? Is that accurate? Do you feel like this is your crusade?
Sue-Rose Read 30:17
Yes, it is. And, and, you know, working and changing the narrative for family? Is our crusade in the workplace? Having come from it having come from that corporate world, and we need, you know, like, we need brands to show up as more than just stuff. Yeah, like the world is inundated with stuff. But how do how do brands, you know, morph into into change or into crusade? Since for us? It’s how do we bring? How do we bring more? How do we make a bigger space for families and families that do not traditionally fit the social norm of, of the workplace? And how do we make that bigger space and remove the anti recognition aspect of it, because it’s still there.
Sarah Morgan 31:10
And that anti-recognition is what we talked about is really creating that polarizing moment, where the person has to reveal this very intimate, personal thing and find that it’s either not celebrated because it’s, it’s judged against what the norm has we’ve defined or that it’s celebrated in the wrong ways by calling too much attention to that individual for not for being, you know, unique in their identities and their choices, and their families. And so what should be a celebratory moment, for all and for the organization turns into something a little bit twisted, because of the fact that that this individual is now facing either criticism and judgment or too much attention on sort of a part of their identity? That really shouldn’t shouldn’t be happening to them, it becomes absolutely, yeah, it becomes a micro aggressive incident. And that’s literally Yeah, and it link can linger on, particularly in the case of pregnancy, because you may tell your organization that you’re expecting it month, four or five, and then people are it becomes thing, something that people are talking about and focusing on with you for months and months.
Sue-Rose Read 32:40
And if you work remote you want yeah. And if you work remote, people might not even know No, and you have no connection, and you have no community, because you’re removed. And, and so it’s, it’s really the consideration of, you know, we are we make we have made strides. But now how do we bring in all these other factors because we live in a different world, we live in that remote world we live in, you know, the demographic milestones that we’ve reached, bring it, we’re bringing those in? And, and how do we how do we create, you know, how do we change the narrative, so that people, you know, aren’t afraid to share that they are well having a child because it is a huge milestone. And, and it is, it is honestly, it, it is also the quintessential milestone where you change as a person. And as the end really is one of the few where you will change as a person. Yeah. And, and how do we bring that all together? With a simple token of celebration?
Sarah Morgan 33:53
Yeah. So what is next for you? And what is next for Oneberrie? For our listeners who are drawn in and bought into your story? How do we connect and support what it is that you’re doing to keep moving workplaces forward?
Sue-Rose Read 34:14
I mean, we are, we are on social, we are always looking for new conversations and really learning those belief systems that companies have. And, and really building up this initiative, so that it becomes so people are like, oh, you know, that people start realizing how awesome you know, simple things can create such big influences. And I mean, Oneberrie with we’re in our seventh year of business, we’re not going anywhere. We are very focused on our niche. We’re not also trying to be this. You know, like I said, mass produce super company. We specialize in Bath linens, we specialize in our initiative. And, and we don’t just want to be another checkbox, you know, we have supplier diversity, we have our own supply chain of diversity. And we are really aware of how products and how products in the workforce and corporate gifting add to, you know, all the sustainability, the environmental factors and so, so, you know, for us, it’s how do we keep integrating in a way that benefits the future, environmentally, family wise, workplace wise? And then how do we just keep getting better at bringing that message together?
Sarah Morgan 35:49
Well, thank you so much, Sue-Rose, for being with us today on the Inclusion Crusade and thank you to everyone who is listening, please make sure that you share this episode and also connect with Sue-Rose. I’ll make sure to have her information in the show notes so that you can connect with her on LinkedIn and all the other socials to be able to find out more about the work that she’s doing and the crusade that she is on through one berry innovations. This again, is the Inclusion Crusade please make sure that you’re making time for rest and recovery and innovation. We look forward to seeing you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai