For working parents, making it through the week is a challenge in and of itself. So, when the opportunity to attend an industry event in another city crops up, many write it off -- particularly when no child-care services are provided. But meeting planners who wish to create more inclusive spaces and drive up attendance rates should consider adding babysitting and activities for children to their conference checklists.
"I rarely go to conferences solely because it's a hassle to coordinate child care and I have to justify the sacrifice my family has to make for me to leave for two to four days," said Mike Tatum
, co-founder and CEO of the lead-generation company Tatum Digital. "It is definitely hardest on single parents, but even in my situation as a married man, attending a conference can be extremely disruptive. Either the kids' school and nap schedules are thrown off by the travel, or my wife's schedule is impacted because she needs to take off work to compensate for my absence."Lisa Bower
, a mother of four, expressed similar frustrations. After years of navigating meetings with little to no support for parents, Bower decided to quit her job as a director of marketing at Ernst & Young in 2013 and start Plus One Meetings
, which offers child-care options for corporate events.
"I once flew a nanny to Palm Springs with me at my personal expense, as I was still nursing infant twins and just couldn't be away from them," said Bower. "This is not something that is affordable for many working parents. I am lucky that it was for me."
The issue, which the National Society of Sciences has dubbed the "child-care conference conundrum,"
persists today. According to Rebecca Calisi Rodriguez
, associate professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior at the University of California, Davis, a lack of child care at meetings creates a barrier for parents to attend and can hinder career advancement, with women and people of color most likely to be affected.
Read the full story, including how to assess if child care is needed at your event and to what extent, at NorthstarMeetingsGroup.com