Michael Wood, Director, Education & Workforce
The Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) strongly believes in the importance of family-friendly workplaces. In partnership with PNC Bank, the DRC was proud to launch the Best Place for Working Parents™ Dallas in January 2021, a new initiative to recognize and promote family-friendly workplaces through a first-of-its-kind business self-assessment. In this ongoing series, the DRC will feature companies from the Dallas Region whose support for working parents goes above and beyond the ten policies recommended by the program.
Grant Thornton, a leading audit, tax, and advisory firm with more than 400 team members in Dallas, views family-friendly benefits as an extension of its culture.
“At Grant Thornton, we want to cultivate a culture of belonging,” said Rina Parikh, Audit Partner at the firm’s Dallas office. “We want employees to bring their whole self to work, which requires us to invest in them both personally and professionally.”
In pursuit of that goal, Grant Thornton offers a robust catalog of family-friendly benefits to its staff, starting with 12-weeks of paid parental leave for both primary and nonprimary caregivers. The company also offers new parents a mentor who has recently had a child. This mentorship program is designed to walk expecting parents through available benefits – which are new to employees anticipating their first child – and to encourage them to take full advantage of their paid leave.
“It’s nice to have the policy on paper, but it’s another thing to encourage people to use it,” said Colin Spreier, Audit Managing Director in Dallas. “We make it a priority to ensure that new parents feel empowered to take time off to spend with their family.”
Grant Thornton’s benefits package extends support to parents when they return to the workplace, too. The firm founded a Working Parents & Allies Business Resource Group at the start of 2020 to allow staff members with children to discuss challenges, share helpful tips, and socialize with colleagues. Established right before the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the resource group has provided significant and timely support for Grant Thornton employees over the past year.
The company also offers a subsidized partnership with Care.com to provide employees up to 30 days of backup care for children and adults in the event that their existing care arrangements fall through. The benefit was particularly helpful as employees sought home-based arrangements at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further, Grant Thornton is a strong proponent of flexibility in the workplace. The company has operated remotely since March 2020 and since then, it has adopted a flex work model that allows staff to work from a GT office, home, or a client site, based on their needs and the needs and expectations of their clients and teammates. For example, employees are encouraged to self-organize their day by blocking off time on their calendars and prioritizing important non-work activities, such as picking up their children from school.
“Work isn’t strictly an 8:00 to 5:00 endeavor anymore,” said Spreier. “We try to foster a culture that promotes flexibility and allows for the prioritization of other things in life.”
Grant Thornton also offers nontraditional benefits that recognize the diverse and ongoing needs of working parents, such as an adoption and surrogacy benefit and support for foster parents. Additionally, the company provides all employees a membership to GrubHub+, a food delivery service, and a tutoring benefit through TutorMe for up to two hours of one-on-one tutoring per week for employees and their dependents.
Taken together, Grant Thornton’s benefits package aims to holistically support working parents and their needs at all stages of parenthood, both inside and outside the workplace. Those benefits complement daily practices that center the firm’s people and their needs.
“As a company, being family-friendly is about support on an everyday basis,” said Parikh. “Too often, employees will go on parental leave and others are supportive of their time off, but once they come back to the workplace, everybody forgets that you still have a child at home.”
Asked how other companies should approach bolstering their benefits, Parikh stressed that being family-friendly is often more about the company’s culture and less about the on-paper benefits. Therefore, it is imperative for senior leadership to lead by example.
“If people in leadership aren’t using benefits or making it possible for others to use benefits, then the value gets lost at the employee level,” she said.
You can learn more about Best Place for Working Parents™ Dallas and complete the business self-assessment by visiting the DRC website.
The self-assessment can be completed in under three minutes and immediately notifies employers if they are eligible to receive the designation by comparing their family-friendly policies to those of similarly sized companies in the Dallas Region. Eighty-six companies have been recognized to date.