Chattanooga, Tenn. (April 27, 2016) - Today, Mayor Andy Berke launched his Family Friendly Workplace Challenge along with the first businesses and organizations signed on to take the Challenge. Berke announced the Challenge on Monday night during his third State of the City Address. During a press conference today at the Edney Center for Innovation, Tennessee American Water and CO.STARTERS joined the list of businesses taking the Challenge.
“There are many types of benefits that help a business attract and retain employees with families,” said Mayor Berke. “There are lots of options depending on what works for business owners and their employees. Each company has unique challenges, and their employees have different preferences. But as a city, we prosper when employers get this right, when we find ways for everyone to participate in the workforce, use their talents, and help Chattanooga employers succeed and create even more jobs.”
Creating more family friendly workplaces was a recommendation made by the Economic Committee of the Mayor’s Council for Women. The Committee spent several months studying barriers that women face in the workplace and looking at programs local companies and women’s groups have implemented to empower and encourage women to support one another.
“The Family Friendly Workplace Challenge is a great way to begin to have this important conversation,” said City Councilwoman and Mayor’s Council for Women Chairman, Dr. Carol Berz. “We know that too many companies are not providing the kinds of benefits that allow their employees to thrive. By taking part in the Challenge, businesses and organizations can talk to their employees and create policies that fit with their specific needs. And most importantly, we’ll have multiple examples of how to make family friendly practices feasible in the workplace.”
Under the Challenge employers commit to engaging their employees and developing a plan to make their businesses attractive for working mothers and fathers. At the end of a year, the City will highlight success stories and use them as a model for other businesses throughout Chattanooga.
In addition to the City of Chattanooga, a number of large businesses and organizations have signed on to Mayor Berke’s Family Friendly Workplace Challenge, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of TN (second largest employer in Chattanooga with 4,437 full-time employees), University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (1,218 full-time employees), Chattanooga State Community College (679 full-time employees), and EPB (545 full-time employees).
"Chattanooga State Community College eagerly accepts the Family Friendly Workplace Challenge,” said Dr. Flora Tydings, President of Chattanooga State Community College. “We have already begun recruiting employees who will be gathering input from our campus community in order to help design what we want ‘Family Friendly’ to look like in our quest to provide a great place to work and learn."
At today’s press conference, Mayor Berke announced the inclusion of Tennessee American Water to the list of those taking the Challenge.
“As changes occur in our workforce and society, we recognize the importance of work-life balance for our employees. That’s why Tennessee American Water is pleased to join Mayor Berke’s Family Friendly Workplace Challenge,” said Tennessee American Water President Valoria Armstrong. “We look forward to building upon existing programs we have that focus on health and wellness while identifying new opportunities with our employees.”
Small businesses and organizations with 50 or fewer employees taking the Family Friendly Workplace Challenge include The Bread Basket, Co. LAB, Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, Epiphany Day Spa & Brow Couture, and Ovalle’s Catering Company.
“The key to finding a job that launches a career is to find a company that matches your needs. Ovalle’s is not the biggest company out there, nor are we the flashiest, but we are a company that puts our employees and their families first,” said Erwin Ovalle, owner of Ovalle’s Catering Company. “We want our employees to know that when you join Ovalle’s, you join a company that will commit to supporting you and your unique needs, whether it is our support for professional development and education, or our commitment to helping find a work-home balance that fits your family’s needs.”
In addition to Ovalle’s, local small business the Bread Basket is also taking the Challenge saying, “We are a family-owned business, so we understand the importance of creating an environment that provides our employees with the flexibility needed to balance demands of work and family life.”
“The Bread Basket is proud to be part of the City of Chattanooga’s Family Friendly Workplace Challenge, and we look forward to working with our employees to come up with new ideas for managing stress and improving our overall wellness,” continued Anson Hyde, owner of the Bread Basket. “That’s tough when we work with cookies and cakes all day, but I’m confident we can be successful!”
Today’s announcement added CO.STARTERS to the list, furthering the number of small businesses and organizations looking for innovative ways to ensure a family friendly workplace for their employees.
“Our purpose with CO.STARTERS is to grow thriving communities by supporting local business, which starts with providing the most supportive environment possible for our own team to thrive,” said Enoch Elwell of CO.STARTERS. “We are excited to join the other members of this challenge as we together highlight the family friendly culture that gives our employees the freedom to do their best work."
To learn more about Mayor Berke’s Family Friendly Workplace Challenge, visit: http://connect.chattanooga.gov/family/.