Highlighting companies with flexible scheduling, supportive coworkers and an emphasis on balance, Great Place to Work teamed up with Fortune to create its first ever list of top companies for working moms and dads — and Rackspace is honored to have made the list.
The Best Workplaces for Parents ranking is based on feedback from 122,482 working parents at Great Place to Work–certified companies: “Mothers, fathers and their colleagues answered 58 questions about the reality of their day-to-day workplace experience, including organization-wide support for work-life balance, the quality of benefits, the fairness of opportunities for professional development and advancement, and their overall assessment of the quality of their workplace.”
Other companies that made the list include the top-ranked Pricewaterhouse Cooper, a professional services company of more than 45,000, and fellow IT company VMware, based in Palo Alto with +19,000 employees, which earned the number four spot on the list.
“It’s so wonderful that we made the list, but I have to admit, I’m not surprised,” said Courtney Skarda, vice president of Racker Experience. “I’m a single mom with two kiddos, and even ten years ago, when I first started at Rackspace, this place was family-oriented and Racker-oriented.”
Rackspace is guided by its core values, Skarda said, and one of those is “Treat Rackers like friends and family.”
Courtney Skarda talks about Rackspace core values and company culture:
In practice, she said, that means “we allow Rackers to do what they need to do to get the job done and serve the customer. We cannot deliver Fanatical Support if we don’t empower Rackers to bring their true selves to work every day. And people can’t do that if they’re worried about their families.”
One of the fastest-growing employee resource groups at Rackspace is RackParents, formalized just over a year ago after a group of nursing moms got together for coffee and support, said Jackie Delgado, one of the group’s founders.
By the group’s third monthly coffee talk, said Delgado, a project manager with Cloud Office and an 11-year Racker, a human resources representative showed up, to talk to the group about how HR could advocate working parents, help them understand their rights, and help them talk to their managers about flexible work schedules.
“That’s when we realized we had the support we needed,” Delgado said, “and it just really blossomed from there.”
In 2015, the human resources department reviewed Rackspace parent’s program closely, said Stephanie Balderrama, a Rackspace human resources leave specialist, and determined that while the current benefits were “more than satisfactory,” there was an opportunity to redesign the program and create a more robust benefit offering.
“This led to the launch of our Healthy Families program, which included upgrades to our short-term disability policy, more paid time off for maternity, paternity and adoption leave, backup childcare and an adoption assistance reimbursement plan,” she said. “These programs have been well received by Rackers and managers throughout the business, and as a member of HR, it feels great to be a part of positive change.”
An email request from RackParents for donations to better furnish the nursing room in the office resulted not only in an outpouring of support but requests from dads to join the group too. As it’s grown, RackParents has also expanded its focus from new parents and their concerns, like car seat safety and breast feeding, to brown bags on ADHD, bullying, cyber safety — even financial planning for college. (A second nursing room has also been added — and didn’t have to rely on donated furniture, said Delgado: “they really rolled out the red carpet. It’s spa-like in there!”)
Josue Rodriguez says that the culture of supporting parents is almost as important as the policies and benefits themselves. He and his wife Cheri Rodriguez are both Rackers, both account managers, with high pressure, 24×7 jobs. They have a one-year-old and a six-year-old.
“When the special ringer goes off at home, my daughter knows to be quiet because mommy or daddy needs to focus on work,” he said. “People talk about work/life balance, but the truth is, it’s a juggling act, and RackParents help provide support, by connecting us with other parents and resources in the community.”
Delgado says other San Antonio companies have reached out to Rackspace to learn about RackParents, and how they might offer something similar, including H-E-B, the Children’s Shelter and the City of San Antonio.
Henry Sauer, vice president of global talent acquisition, says family friendly policies and a culture of support are a must in today’s business environment. Sauer, a father of four, experienced that support first hand when his oldest son was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and endured more than a year of chemotherapy.
“I had unbelievable support across Rackspace to be with my son and my family during that time,” he said, “and I know mine is just one of many stories like that here.”
Skarda noted that this kind of flexibility is not limited to parents.
“Everyone in life has someone or something in life they need to take care of, whether children, parents, even pets,” she said. “It’s important that we enable all Rackers to take care of what’s important to them, so they can come to work prepared and focused.”
Of course things could always be better, Rodriguez said. “But RackParents gives us a voice to advocate, to connect with leadership so we can meet the needs of the business while meeting the needs of the people who drive it.”