Businesses in Sri Lanka that offer childcare support to their employees can gain a significant positive impact on recruitment, retentionand productivity of workers, especially women,according to a new 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.
Despite improved educational and health outcomes, only 36 percent of Sri Lankan women participate in paid work. A 2017 World Bank report indicates that having a child under age of five reduces women’s labor force participation.Closing the workforce gender gap can help the country raise its long-term gross domestic product by up to 20 percent.
“Reliable, affordable, and quality childcare solutions will be important for making progress on women’s employment. When companies support their employees in meeting their childcare needs, they can hire and retain talent and boost profits and productivity,” said Amena Arif, IFC Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives. “This report is a call to action for public and private sector partners to promotechildcare solutions,because it is good for business, and good for the country’s growth.”
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 5 years, are more likely to perform well in school and be healthier and more productive adults.
“The companies included in this report are a powerful example to the wider private sector. By ensuring that employees can balance both work and family life, business can harness real benefits today, and contribute to building a generation ready to seize the opportunities of the future,” said Tim Sutton, UNICEF Representative.“Children are our greatest resource and the provision of family friendly services is both a smart business investment and a critical socially responsible action”
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 this area is supported by Australian government under an IFC-DFAT Women in Work partnership.