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Credit…Christopher Jones for The New York Times

Nearly half of mothers with young children who left the workforce cited childcare as a reason for moving, according to a survey released Wednesday, and 69% of women looking for work said that childcare benefits could influence their decision on where to go to work.

The survey of more than 1,000 workers by consulting firm McKinsey & Company and Marshall Plan for Moms, a campaign focused on the economic participation of mothers, adds to research exploring how the lack of childcare in Children continue to weigh on the economy and tighten an already hot job market.

“Companies are scrambling for talent,” said Reshma Saujani, who founded Marshall Plan for Moms and Girls Who Code, a nonprofit aimed at closing the gender gap in tech. “Our report shows that you can only attract, retain and advance women in the workforce by providing childcare benefits.”

Childcare has long been too scarce or too expensive for most families. And during the pandemic, the industry more or less collapsed, as child care centers struggled to stay open and child care workers quit en masse.

Many child care executives and activists had hoped President Biden’s sweeping infrastructure plan would provide support for the industry. But the streamlined bill was enacted without big investments in child care. Saujani says the responsibility now lies with the private sector.

Most salaried and hourly workers do not have access to childcare benefits. Six percent of hourly workers surveyed and 16 percent of salaried workers said they had access to childcare subsidies. The same percentage of hourly workers, and even fewer of salaried workers, said their employer provided additional child care or offered pre-tax flexible spending accounts that could be used to pay for child care costs. About 30% of respondents said they have flexible working hours.

Ms Saujani’s campaign is forming a business coalition that includes Patagonia and Archewell, the production company founded by Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. To register, businesses must offer a subsidy or childcare benefit or intend to provide one, Ms Saujani said. Once they join the coalition, companies can share and learn best practices from each other.

Synchrony, a financial services company that is part of the coalition, found that offering its employees creative childcare options led to increased job satisfaction and an influx of applications for open positions. , said Carol Juel, the company’s chief technology and operations officer. .

In the summer of 2020, the company created a virtual summer camp, tasking its employees’ high school and college students with keeping 3,700 campers busy in exchange for mentorship training and college credits. And the company “would send, every Friday, the program for the following week so that the workers could plan their meetings according to that”, Ms Juel said.

Fast Retailing USA, which operates clothing brands such as Uniqlo, Theory and Helmut Lang and is also part of the coalition, has started offering monthly childcare allowances of up to $1,000 to many employees , including store managers. The money can be spent as they see fit rather than being tied to specific vendors.

“Many of the people involved in sponsoring this policy, including myself and some of our human resources managers, all have children of the same age,” said Serena Peck, executive director and general counsel of Fast Retailing. They saw firsthand how “the market was shrinking for good child care” and “they felt like we had to do something.”

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