Today I spoke at a committee hearing in Washington D.C. with the National Partnership for Women and Families to advocate for a national paid leave law; the U.S. is the only industrialized country without one. Following is what I had to say--as a business owner and a mother of two. Congratulations to the National Partnership on the 25th anniversary of the Family Leave Act and thank you for continuously moving this important issue forward.
Beth Monaghan Capitol Hill Statement
Good morning. My name is Beth Monaghan. I’m the CEO of InkHouse, a bi-coastal PR firm with 100 employees. I’m also the vice chair of The Alliance for Business Leadership, a group of business leaders that’s working hard to pass a paid leave bill in Massachusetts.
We know that paid leave is good for families. But accounting practices make it harder to see how it’s good for business. Employee retention doesn’t show up on the P&L. But when we dig deeper the benefits are clear: it costs 150 percent of someone’s salary to replace them, and paid leave improves retention.
Another reason to offer paid leave is workplace bias. Women still bear the burden of care, which matters to me because I am a CEO in an industry that’s 70 percent female. I offer paid leave because I need a workplace for the people who work there, not one handed down from the Mad Men era when men worked and women cooked.
Paid leave is not easy to offer though. It’s expensive. I offer 12 weeks of parental leave at full pay and disability only up to 8 of those at 60 percent. Now, there’s a new paid leave tax credit, but we did the math.
For an employee earning 40 grand a year, InkHouse pays $6,812 out of pocket, and gets back $852. That’s kind of like the annual tax-free holiday we have in Massachusetts. The discount is too small for me to run out and buy a couch unless I was already planning on it.
The other hard truth is that leave is inconvenient. I hired a woman who got pregnant a month later and had to go on bed rest for her whole pregnancy. Another adopted a baby, took leave and then came back only for her father to get sick. Today, these two women run practice areas at InkHouse. I stuck with them, and they stuck with me.
But I’m not normal. We need a federal standard because we can’t rely on the good intentions of a small group of progressive employers. It’s time to stop separating what’s good for humanity from what’s good for business.
Since the early days working around her kitchen table, Beth has grown Inkhouse into one of the top independent PR agencies in the country. She’s been named a Top Woman in PR by PR News, a Top 25 Innovator by PRovoke, and an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist. Beth designed Inkhouse’s signature Storytelling Workshop to mirror the literary hero’s journey and to unearth the emotional connections that bind an audience to a brand or idea. She also uses narratives to build Inkhouse’s culture, most recently through two books of employee essays, “Hindsight 2020” and “Aren’t We Lucky?”