At work, starting a family is generally viewed as a personal issue – something that needs to be taken care of outside of the workplace. However, given the prevailing notions of traditional gender roles, this disproportionately affects new mothers. And the results have come with high economic costs as large numbers of mothers leave their career-track jobs to care for children. If these mothers reenter the workforce, they usually take part-time positions or work as consultants resulting in massive losses in human capital.
However, families, labor force demographics and businesses are rapidly changing. Most modern families are now based on dual income households and do not have a support system (such as extended family) nearby. In the US, the majority of women with a young child are in the labor force, and more mothers are serving as their family’s sole or primary “breadwinner.” Businesses, both large and small, especially innovative companies working in highly competitive sectors are increasingly aware that if they want to attract and retain top talent, supporting new parents is no longer an option but a necessity.
In response, innovative solutions to support new parents are being introduced such as the Cleo app. The Cleo app uses technology-based solutions to provide easy connectivity, access and affordability with personal care to revolutionize the work-life balance for working parents. Founded in 2016 by Shannon Spanhake and Chitra Akileswaran, Cleo’s mission is to help women and men navigate through the stages of new parenthood: becoming a parent, being a new parent, and then finding success as a working parent.
Currently available in 35 countries, the Cleo app provides comprehensive prenatal and postpartum care connecting parents to trusted, vetted, experts in specialties ranging from lactation consultants, nutritionist and sleep coaches to parenting and family therapists and career strategists (to plan parental leave and return to work). Consultations can take place in-person, via skype and can be accessed via 24/7 text messaging. Cleo also provides support for diverse parenting needs ranging from LGBTQ parents and single parents to adoption and surrogacy options.
The Cleo app is currently being provided by large companies such as Ebay but also as a cost effective and affordable benefit offered by small and medium-sized companies. Some of the Cleo app’s medium sized company clients including the social bookmarking tool Pinterest, the public accountancy firm BPM and social publishing network Medium. Direct business benefits include health savings, retention and attraction of women and senior talent as well as staying connected to employees while they are on parental leave.
But perhaps one of the most revolutionary impact of the Cleo app is the increased engagement of fathers. Most Millennial fathers and mothers are comfortable using digital technology and with the Cleo app both can equally access information, text message and hop on joint consultations via skype increasing the options to stay informed and actively involved as working parents.
Marwan, S. (2018) Parenthood Transition Startup Cleo Raises $10.5 Million Series A Round, Forbes, June 13, 2018
Spanhake, S. (2018) Parents Are the Future of Work: We raised $10.5M from Greylock Partners to continue supporting modern families to succeed at work and home, Medium, June 13, 2018
Welsh, J. (2018) Cleo Raises $10M Series A To Help Millennials Better Manage Their Money, Forbes, September 21, 2018