Leaders on Leave – Voices of The Paid Leave Pledge
To further explore the motivations and challenges companies face in implementing and tracking paid family and medical leave, we’re kicking off a series of interviews with pledge companies, beginning with Erin Moran, Chief Culture Officer, at Union Square Hospitality Group.
In June 2018 Panorama announced The Paid Leave Pledge to further the adoption of paid leave by U.S. employers. The effort, which galvanizes leading business voices on paid leave around a commitment to share data on the impact of their paid family and medical leave (PFML) programs, aims to build the evidence base to support broad paid leave adoption.
USHG has long been a leader on paid leave, even despite the especially tough environment restaurants, and those in the hospitality industry in general, face. A Pew Research study released in 2017 found workers in the leisure/hospitality sector have some of the lowest rates of access to paid family leave with only about 6% reporting the benefit. While seldom discussed, restaurant workers make up the largest single employment group in the United States. If you include hospitality workers the workforce is nearly double that of any other industry in the country. Even more, on average, restaurant workers are the third lowest paying job in the U.S. Again, according to Pew, 30% of workers with household incomes under $30,000 said that they were unable to take leave when they needed it. USHG not only recognized this, but also thought, if employers in this industry can shift their thinking it could be hugely impactful to the future of work.
In 2016 the restaurant group, formed by Danny Meyer, did what they believed to be the right thing in implementing a paid leave policy that includes the same expansive maternity program for both hourly and salaried workers. It was, and still is, a big deal. Many large companies have only recently rolled out equitable benefits across their workforce. Eater NY appropriately covered the significance of Meyer’s groundbreaking move.
The effort didn’t come without consequence or challenge. As with any business, cost is always a consideration. Even more so for businesses, such as restaurants, which often have high overhead and low profit margins. For Chief Culture Officer Erin Moran, it was her proudest moment at the company.
“Our hope is other peers in the restaurant and hospitality industries will see this and be inspired to take action,” said Moran. “We want them to think, if they found a way to do it we can find a way as well.”
Regarding measurement of impact, Moran and team recognize PFML is a long-term return. While you can budget investments and returns such as talent attraction and retention, it is difficult to predict.
Panorama is thrilled to have USHG as one of the first leaders to join the paid leave pledge. Their commitment punctuates their already bold, public statement about how important paid leave is to them. We also hope it inspires others to push their thinking and join the cause.