Employer-Supported Childcare Brings Benefits to Families, Employers, and the Economy

Around the world, women on average are responsible for nearly three-quarters of unpaid care work (ILO, 2019), which negatively impacts their participation in paid work. The World Bank Group’s Gender Strategy, IFC’s Corporate Strategy (IFC 3.0), and the SDGs recognize that good quality, affordable childcare can enable women’s access to more and better jobs. Yet globally, childcare that aligns with parents’ needs, values, work hours, and income levels remains scarce, particularly for infants and toddlers. In addition to governments and childcare providers, employers have a role to play in addressing the global childcare crisis. Employer-supported childcare can be particularly impactful in low-income and post-conflict contexts where the fiscal space may be constricted, publicly-provided services may be limited, and where parents often must choose between working or staying at home to provide care.

Since 2017, IFC’s series of Tackling Childcare reports spanning Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and other countries show that there is a strong business case for employers to meet the care needs of their employees. IFC research shows that family-friendly workplace policies such as childcare, flexible work, and paid leave can enable firms to attract and retain talent, boosting productivity and profits. Childcare provision can enable more working parents, particularly women, to realize their income-earning potential. Research by the World Bank and other organizations has shown that children who have access to high-quality early childhood care and education (ECCE) are more likely to be healthier and more productive as adults. Hence, employer-supported childcare can result in a win-win-win for families, employers, and economies.

IFC’s Global Tackling Childcare Advisory Program focuses on improving the enabling environment for employer-supported childcare by working with client companies, the World Bank, governments, and related entities to facilitate the implementation of good childcare and family-friendly practices through advisory engagements, business case research, and peer learning collaborations as well as by informing childcare policies, conducting market research to address care demand and supply barriers, and identifying investment potential in the care economy.

To accelerate implementation and raise awareness, IFC recently led the Global Tackling Childcare Working Group of more than 30 organizations that came together to share knowledge and develop guidance for employers, including the Guide for Employer-Supported Childcare as well as Childcare in the COVID-19 Era: A Guide for Employers.

IFC is committed to building and sharing knowledge and promoting global, multi-stakeholder discussions on this topic to help advance the opportunities and benefits associated with it.

Follow this work on Twitter #TacklingChildcare and read various reports, case studies, and blogs linked on this page.