Significant benefits for companies on childcare support - IFC report | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Significant benefits for companies on childcare support - IFC report

Sri Lanka’s businesses offering childcare support to employees can improve recruitment, retention and productivity of workers, especially women, according to a report released by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

‘Tackling Childcare: The Business Case of Employer-supported Childcare in Sri Lanka’ is IFC’s first country-specific report, which provides business case evidence and practical guidance on implementing childcare practices. The report features onsite and offsite childcare approaches of 10 of Sri Lanka’s leading employers in key sectors, such as banking, garments and apparel, information technology, law, and large multinationals with diversified businesses.

Brandix Lanka, Fairway Holdings (Pvt) Limited, F. J. & G. de Saram, Hemas Holdings PLC, LSEG Technology, MAS Holdings, Selyn, Standard Chartered PLC, Unilever Sri Lanka Ltd. and WSO2 are the companies featured in the report.

Only 36 percent of Sri Lankan women participate in paid work despite improved educational and health outcomes. A 2017 World Bank report stated that having a child under age of five reduces women’s labour force participation. Closing the workforce gender gap can help the country raise long-term gross domestic product by up to 20 percent.

“Reliable, affordable, and quality childcare solutions are important to make progress on women’s employment. When companies support their employees to meet their childcare needs, they can hire and retain talent and boost profits and productivity,” said IFC Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives Amena Arif.

“The report is a call to action for public and private sector partners to promote childcare solutions, because it is good for business, and good for the country’s growth,” he said.

A recent education sector survey revealed that only half of three-to five-year old children in the country are enrolled in a preschool. Children who have access to early childhood education and care, especially in the first five years, are more likely to perform well in school and be healthier and more productive in adulthood.

“The companies included in the report are an example to the wider private sector. Business can harness benefits and contribute to building a generation ready to seize the opportunities of the future by ensuring that employees can balance both work and family life,” UNICEF Representative Tim Sutton said.

“Children are our greatest resource and the provision of family friendly services is a smart business investment and a critical socially responsible action,” he said.

Tackling Childcare is part of IFC’s broader effort to address gender gaps in employment and identify how the public and private sectors can better collaborate to increase women’s workforce participation. IFC’s work in the area is supported by Australian government under an IFC-DFAT Women in Work partnership.