Islamabad: International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, said that business groups which offer childcare facility in Pakistan have positive business and other social out comes against their peers who do not give this facility.
The IFC surveyed 140 employers in Pakistan and found that 27% offer childcare support to their employees. Among those that offer childcare, almost all report positive outcomes for businesses, employees, and society.
Participating employers, including 13 companies that joined an IFC-led peer-learning collaboration and made commitments to become more family-friendly employers, cited improvements in employee retention and productivity, even in the midst of COVID-19.
However, 48% of employers that do not provide childcare support and were surveyed said they do not see the need and/or benefit of doing so, pointing to low levels of awareness about the business case for employer-supported childcare.
The research and the collaboration among employers in Pakistan are part of an initiative led by IFC and the Pakistan Business Council (PBC) focused on advancing women’s labor force participation by increasing employers’ awareness of the business case and accelerating implementation of family-friendly workplace measures such as childcare.
Increasing women’s employment is one of Pakistan’s national development goals. In 2020, according to data from the International Labour Organization, less than 23% of Pakistani women of working age were part of the labor force, the lowest rate in the region and one of the lowest in the world.
Raising this rate in line with the country’s development objectives will require cross-sector collaboration and approaches, including a focus on employer-supported childcare, paid maternity and paternity leave, flexible work arrangements, safe transportation, and other family-friendly policies.
“Despite the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, these employers found that creating family-friendly workplaces was critical to protect the well-being of workers as well as ensure business continuity,” said Shabana Khawar, IFC’s Principal Country Officer for Pakistan.
“IFC’s research in Pakistan and around the world shows that significant opportunity exists for the private sector when leaders view childcare and other family-friendly policies as an investment rather than a cost,” she added.
On the other hand, Chief Executive Officer PBC Ehsan Malik, said that in Pakistan, where women do 90% of unpaid care work, access to affordable childcare is critical for the country’s future development and also for business productivity. “PBC is happy to work with its member companies and other organizations to support women in the workforce.”