retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Hill reports that fast-casual salad chain Sweetgreen announced this week that it will offer all of its employees five months of paid parental leave.

The company posted online in social media: ““At sweetgreen, mothers, fathers, adoptive parents, foster parents, and others with new additions to their families will now receive 5 months of fully paid parental leave … We believe it’s our responsibility to lead the way given the U.S. is one of the few countries that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents.”

The post goes on:

“Nobody makes a bigger impact than our team members - it’s their dedication that allows us to live our mission every day: connecting people to real food. Someone once gave us a piece of advice we live by: people don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care. This is the essence of one of our most important core values - make an impact. This move is rare for our industry and we hope this creates a conversation for other companies to join.”

The story notes that the proposal has a political component. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, “reintroduced a paid family leave bill last month that would allow people to take paid family and medical leave for up to 12 weeks and would be paid for through small increases in payroll taxes. GOP lawmakers, meanwhile, have offered a proposal that would allow people to pull forward some of their Social Security benefits to use for paid parental leave.”

At a time when at least some quarters of business are becoming more sensitive - appropriately so, in my view - to the personal needs of employees, understanding that their companies are only as effective as the people on the front lines, it is heartening that a company like Sweetgreen - 91 locations in eight states, close to 4,000 employees and a reported valuation in the neighborhood of $1 billion - decides to do something it didn’t have to do.

It is called leadership. And an Eye-Opener.
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