After Amazon: Parental Spending Takes a Time Out

Amazon and family leave, how do Amazon and Jeff Bezos treat parent employees

More than ever, consumers are looking for parity — brands that sell to them must also speak to them. Consumers who carefully choose how they spend their money and with which brands are asking for proof of aligned values from their beloved brands. And this is where the “Parenting Parity” comes in to play.


One thing has been made abundantly clear with the reaction to recent revelations on how Amazon treats employees: the consumer’s interest in the whole of what lives behind the velvet ropes of an organization is big and getting bigger. In other words, the emphasis on knowing the truth about a brand’s principles isn’t going away.

More than ever, consumers are looking for parity — brands that sell to them must also speak to them. Consumers who carefully choose how they spend their money and with which brands are asking for proof of aligned values from their beloved brands.

And this is where the “Parenting Parity” comes in to play. Is there equity? If you sell me diapers (as Julia Cheiffetz, former Amazon employee pointed out) you better not be full of crap in how you support families at the home office.

Cheiffetz writes of her own experience, “I Had a Baby and Cancer When I Worked at Amazon. This Is My Story.” She challenges consumers to look carefully at the cultures and the commitments of organizations like Amazon. The call for parity is what is next. Brands will need to show their truest colors and be earnest in their support of families.

This is not unique to Amazon, not in circumstance, nor in challenge.

This is about the American experience. The focus is on the private sector and how they will successfully bring families back to work with ease, as a matter of course and with sense of pride. All companies should be aware that as more people talk about workplace conditions and back-to-work, the policies that affect working families will be under scrutiny. Amazon may be in the hot seat, but they did other companies a favor by being the first ones. If you work in brand management, human resources, or any external-facing position for a company, thank your lucky stars that you weren’t hit first and use this opportunity to evaluate how your workplace treats working families.

This is millennial thinking, and it is getting bigger, bolder and more front-line. Consumers want to know they are spending their money with the right people — which is how we know the question of parity aligns with pride. And this is our call to brands: you can’t market to women and choose not to take care of families.

Here at the It’s Working Project, we’ve dedicated ourselves to helping the private sector bring families back to work with ease as a matter of course and with a sense of pride. By listening through our Portrait Project we are able to see and share — uncovering the true back-to-work experience for American families.

And the picture is not pretty. For many families, going-back-to-work is a struggle, one that begins as soon as the maternity leave is up and stays until families opt-out of the workplace or find alternatives. The success stories we’ve seen have employers who have made families and work-life balance a priority.

This real-time challenge is not going away. Consumers know how their brands treat families, not just in the aisles or on web pages, but in the workplace. If we want working families to show loyalty to products and services, it is time to take care of them in the workplace as well.

Julia Beck is the founder of Forty Weeks and the It’s Working Project and is the mother of four in Washington D.C.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Steve Jurvetson/CC License

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