Support Helps General Mills Working Moms Thrive
Today, Working Mother magazine released its annual Best Companies for Working Mothers rankings and for the 20th consecutive year, General Mills earned a spot on the list, landing among the ‘Top Five’ most family-friendly companies.
Working Mother magazine selects the 100 Best Companies based on the availability of progressive workplace programs, including child care, flexible work arrangements, paid parental leave and advancement of women. Companies are also measured on access to and usage of family-friendly programs.
Since I’m not a mom myself, I sat down with Lauren Pradhan, Senior Marketing Manager for Wellness Strategy in the General Mills Cereal division and mama of a 2-year-old to hear what makes General Mills a great place for working moms and dads.
What about the culture of General Mills do you find supportive as a working mom?
Pradhan: I’ve been with General Mills for 11 years, and even before I was a mom, I was impressed that I was surrounded by working moms at all levels of the organization. I love that.
I’d say what I really appreciate is that my team, my managers and the company as a whole allows me to do my job in the best way that fits my life. The culture is extremely supportive – it really is a “we’re all in this together” – when it comes to balancing responsibilities at work and at home
My situation is a little bit unique because my husband works at General Mills as well. We met in our first year at the company and we both still work here today. While having your spouse in the same building does make some things easier for me, like all working parents we’re in a perpetual balancing act – balancing meetings with daycare pick-up, work projects with and doctor appointments and so on.
General Mills offers a variety of family-friendly work arrangements and benefits. What General Mills benefits did you utilize when you became a mom?
Pradhan: When I first had Kiran, my now two-year-old, I was able to take six months of maternity leave. This was an incredible gift of time with my son, and I appreciated how the company was supportive and worked with me to make it happen.
I did not realize until after I had my son how amazing it is to have onsite daycare center at General Mills’ headquarters. As a new mom, I was not sure how I would handle being apart from Kiran after having my entire universe revolve around him for so long. Having him onsite made my transition so much easier; emotionally, because I could see them throughout the day, and practically because I could easily be there to take care of his needs in those early months.
As a dual-working household, I also really appreciated (and still do appreciate) the backup day care benefits that General Mills offers. If Kiran’s current daycare is closed for teacher training or a holiday and my husband and I both have meetings we cannot miss – General Mills offers the option to use a an alternate, certified daycare nearby for Kiran for a small co-pay. It takes a lot of pressure off of us knowing we have that option and it makes me feel like the company appreciates the parental pain points we go through sometimes.
How have your colleagues and managers supported you in balancing work and home?
Pradhan: When I first announced that I was expecting, I received really wonderful support from my managers and my colleagues. I think I started getting advice emails day one!
I remember calling my manager as I was headed to the hospital to tell her I was going into labor with Kiran five weeks early. Her first response was “Okay - good luck! We’ll see you in six months then.” I didn’t have to worry about my job– I was just able to focus on my family.
As you can imagine, that moment was already incredibly stressful, so I am forever grateful that my manager and my colleagues were ready and willing to jump in at the drop of a hat.
What advice would you give to a new mom returning to work? What was helpful for you to keep in perspective?
Pradhan: Don’t hold yourself to unrealistic standards. . As women, we can be so hard ourselves, so I would say understand that every woman and mom is unique. People will offer so much advice, but at the end of the day, parenting as a working mom is a personal journey so don’t compare and contrast yourself to others.
Editor’s note: See the full list of Working Mother’s Best Companies for Working Mothers online at WorkingMother.com.