There is no longer one dominant family form in the U.S. According to the Pew Research Center, parents today are raising their children against a backdrop of increasingly diverse and, for many, constantly evolving family forms. Knowing this, it’s clear that employers need to create policies and offer flexible benefits that make work-life balance possible for all family structures.
In celebration of International Day of Families on May 15, HEINEKEN USA (HUSA) sat down with Jenn Mathis, National Inventory Manager, to learn more about the parental benefits that matter most to her. At HUSA, Jenn is charged with managing product inventory across the country, ensuring our stock reporting is correct and the inventory controls are followed. She is also a working mom who addressed the importance of a flexible workplace and family benefits.
Jenn talked to us about her experience fostering and adopting her two children.
How long have you been with HUSA?
- I started in January 2006 in Georgia, so I’m going into my 13th year with HEINEKEN USA. Over the years, it’s great to have witnessed how parental leave policies have changed and evolved. And to have been part of the process, particularly as we’re now hoping to adopt our second child!
When did you start your family?
- I started my family eight years ago when we received a call from my mother-in-law asking if we’d like to foster a baby boy. We started fostering our now son, EJ, when he was 18 months old. I adopted him about a year and a half later. Back then, there was no formal policy for adoption, but my colleagues at HUSA were very accommodating.
Which policies and family benefits personally mean the most to you?
- There are so many that I’m grateful to HUSA for, including:
Flexible Work Schedule: The ability to work from home when needed has been amazing. We’re currently fostering another baby, Rosalie, and working to formalize her adoption. As part of the fostering and adoption procedures (which are rather intense!), I’ve had to take time off about once a week, and HUSA has been great about letting me work from home on flexible hours during this time. It has also given me the opportunity to get to know and bond with my baby girl.
Great Colleagues & Seamless Transitions: It’s just a great, accommodating culture that I’m proud to be a part of. For example, when my husband and I were first presented with the opportunity to foster our baby girl, the HR team and my boss worked with me to train someone who could take over my work. It allowed me to have the peace of mind to take maternity leave for my daughter.
Formal policies: It’s nice to have a formal policy in place now that we’re fostering and hoping to adopt our second child. Even though the team was super supportive the first time around, the formal policy makes it easier on parents. I’m more comfortable about taking time off to be a new mom, without worrying about how it was perceived at the office.
How did your co-workers support you?
- Since we were working with the foster care system, I couldn’t give a definite date of when I needed to leave –the call could come at any moment that a child needed our family. I was actually in Baltimore at an inventory point when I got the call about Rosalie. Because of the transition plan, HEINEKEN was ready at a moment’s notice for me to leave and be with the baby.
- My boss was great about finding someone to takeover while I would be out for 12 weeks, while also allowing me to be able to easily get back into the work schedule upon my return. Being away that long was a lot to take on, but it was a smooth transition. There was nothing I needed to worry about while I was out because of the support of my co-workers. They even threw me a baby shower before leaving.
What word of advice would you give to parents looking to start their families?
- My husband and I got married later on in life and feel blessed to be able to have kids and adopt kids who need a home. My advice would be to understand that there are lots of different ways to have a family. There are many misconceptions about fostering children, so another piece of advice would be to open your mind because there are lots of kids out there.
Building inclusive communities is an important part of our Brewing a Better World ethos, including our own at HUSA. That’s why HUSA is proud to offer comprehensive benefits to parents raising the next generation, and we’re always looking to be even more conscientious about what families need. Our family benefits include maternity and paternity leave, family bonding leave weeks, adoptive parent benefits, nursing mother accommodations, and a Back-Up Care Advantage program, to name a few.
We’d like to thank Jenn for sharing her inspiring story and perspective of family life. We raise a Heineken® to her and to all the incredibly talented parents at HUSA who make our forward-thinking company shine.