Although the gender gap is slowly (very, very slowly) decreasing in some traditionally male dominated industries, it's still a struggle for new moms to stay competitive at work. That's why this law firm providing a breastmilk shipping program is so important and companies everywhere should take note. Latham & Watkins, an international firm that grosses the most annual revenue, just introduced a breastmilk shipping program for their employees, created by Hayley Gladstone, one of Latham's associates. Corporate law isn't always the best job for new moms — the crazy long hours and hectic schedule is like having another baby to tend to — so being able to ship breastmilk home while traveling is a huge win.
There's no waste and there's no pesky TSA agents rifling through your breastmilk at airport security. Gladstone, who is also the co-chair of the firms Parent Lawyer Group said that the program was high up on her to-do list for the group. “I had seen other nursing moms take advantage of [a company sponsored breastmilk shipping program] in other companies, and it seemed to me it was something not available in the legal industry —but could be,” said Gladstone. The program is the first of its kind at a law firm, but companies like Twitter, Ernst & Young, IBM, and Johnson & Johnson have long offered shipping programs for nursing mothers.
The program is simple. When a nursing mom travels, the firm sends a shipping unit to the hotel, that includes a Styrofoam box that chills down by pressing a button. There are plastic storage bags, labels, a marker, and packing tape in the unit, too. Once it's packed, it all goes to FedEx.
Julia Thompson, an associate with Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C. has had three children since joining the firm said that traveling and trying to figure out what to do with breastmilk was a "Herculean logistical effort." This makes it so much easier. And is just one tiny things that firms can do to make sure they retain women.
Corporate law was just not made for new moms. According to a piece by Leigh McMullan Abramson in The Atlantic, the billing model in law works against being efficient, something all moms are good at. "From the firm’s perspective, a woman who can generate a stellar brief in time to make it to her daughter’s afternoon soccer game is less profitable than an associate who takes all night to complete the same task,”Abramson writes. She has a point. The American Bar Association reported this spring that 44.7 percent of associates are women, but only 21.5 percent of partners are female. Cultural shifts like making it OK for a breastmilk shipping unit to follow you around on client visits are the little things that can help retain talent.
But you don't have to work at a big firm or Twitter to ship your milk while traveling for work. There are services, like Milk Stork, that will provide the same sort of service, albeit out of pocket (but milk shipping is worth a reimbursement, don't you think?). Either way, companies that provide shipping for breastmilk are not only doing a good thing about ensuring women stay in the game, but they're also preventing pumping dumping and the quest for freezers or ice while on the go. It's just good for everyone — from baby to CEO. It's about time other companies take not.