Texas Tech To Be Designated As a “Mother-Friendly Work Place”

Written by Rebecca Douglas

A grant of up to $70,000 will soon make Texas Tech University one of a select group of higher education institutions in Texas designated as a “Mother-Friendly Workplace.”

The Texas Department of State Health Services was awarded a competitive grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DSHS) to implement the Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite Policy Initiative. The award is designated to facilitate the development and implementation of best-practice workplace policies that support infant nursing statewide.

The DSHS has targeted Texas Tech to serve as a pilot worksite during the grant period to test strategies, tools and messaging regarding worksite lactation support. Administered through the Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement, the grant will be used to purchase supplies, including top-of-the-line breast pumps, and to renovate at least five rooms across the Texas Tech campus by Jan. 1, 2012, for worksite lactation support purposes.

According to a survey conducted in 2008 by the Texas Tech University Gender Equity Council, there is a need among female faculty, staff and students for private, designated workspace on campus for pumping natural milk. As a result of the council’s recommendation, new Operating Policy and Procedure 70.46, “Break Time for Nursing Mothers,” was recently adopted to establish standards and protocols for nursing and lactation accommodation on campus. The survey and recommendation for university policies in support of infant nursing reflect President Guy Bailey’s strong belief in creating an environment at Texas Tech that supports gender equality.

“There is no question about the health benefits of infant nursing for both the mother and her child,” acknowledged Juan Muñoz, Vice President of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement at Texas Tech. “As we have in so many other fields and endeavors, Texas Tech will become a leader in support of women’s health in the workplace, and designation as a Mother-Friendly Workplace will show our commitment to that goal.”

According to the DSHS, the benefits of a Mother-Friendly Workplace include reduced employee turnover, shorter maternity leave, lower absenteeism due to a sick child, increased productivity among employees with new children, enhanced loyalty among employees, improved positive image, lower and fewer health insurance claims and an overall higher morale among employees. Designation as a Mother-Friendly Workplace also serves as an enticing recruitment incentive for faculty, employees and staff.

In order to help identify sites on campus for renovation as private lactation support rooms, as well as crafting a plan in support of nursing mothers in the workplace, the Division of Institutional Diversity has engaged a task force comprised of representatives from across the Texas Tech campus. Their duty will be to ensure that the grant money is effectively utilized, to report developments to the DSHS, and to craft a future plan in support of a Mother-Friendly Workplace.

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CONTACT: Juan Munoz, vice president, Institutional Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-7025, or juan.munoz@ttu.edu