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Inclusivity for Parents at Reaction

If you’re a parent or know someone who’s a parent, chances are you’ve heard or experienced  how exhilarating AND exhausting it is. Being a working parent brings an additional set of challenges to your life. Between coordinating drops offs and picks up, school closures, sick days and doctor appointments, ‘doing it all’ can be daunting!

The good news is, companies have started to empathize with working parents and many offer benefits such as paid parental leave and a “flexible” working schedules. But, are these enough? Even with added benefits, working parents often deal with a lack of understanding and pressure from their employers. Working parents are often criticized for not being as committed and/or putting in as much time as their childless peers.

“The biggest issue for working [parents] is the idea that they must be available around the clock both at home and the office. And while most are up for the challenge, they will only be successful if employers and managers who shape office policy and work culture support them in all aspects of their life, at home and at work.”  
- Mary Beth Ferrante, ForbesWomen

As a parent to two young kids, I feel very fortunate that my experience at Reaction has been so positive. When I had my 2nd child in October of 2018, I enjoyed a blissfully (paid!) parental leave but was overwhelmed with stress regarding my return to work because I had a baby who refused to take the bottle. I had tried everything, and it became clear that I needed to have the uncomfortable conversation with our CEO about my need to break multiple times daily to nurse my baby. Luckily, her response was something along the lines of “family comes first, do what you need to do.” Cue HUGE sigh of relief.

The next few months proved to be challenging trying to balance work and the work of being a new parent. I was extremely self-conscious of my own situation, and often worked late into the evening after my kids have gone to bed because I didn’t want to be perceived as slacking off or getting special treatment.

It’s really important to realize supporting parents in the workplace doesn’t end with a great parental leave policy and you shouldn’t have to work at a large corporation to receive these benefits. Even though Reaction is a small company, there are many things currently being done to create a more inclusive culture for parents.

Truly flexible working options

As a remote-first company, Reaction offers its employees the ability to work from anywhere. We also trust our employees to do their work. Yes, we have meetings that you are required to attend, but beyond that, we honor work hours that work for you (you just have to keep your co-workers in the loop!).  This is especially helpful to working parents since the logistics of kids is complicated enough on its own, without a rigid working schedule.

Ryan, Design Director: “After my young son began at daycare I was able to switch to working full-time as a remote employee and shift my working hours earlier in order to be available to pick him up everyday. By doing this, I’m able to make the logistics of my family work and I get to spend more time with my son instead of commuting in LA traffic.”

Ryan with his son, Dash

Ticean, Lead Architect: “Last summer I took a cross-country roadtrip with my wife and two daughters. I was able to work for 2 months from our family cabin in Kentucky, taking calls on the patio in the middle of the woods while my girls enjoyed their summer break. It’s truly an experience I’m glad our family had the opportunity to share.”

Ticean's daughter, Avery, enjoying summer in KY.

Empathy and understanding

The folks who work at Reaction are genuinely nice. “We treat each other how we want to be treated” is something that is written into our company values and something that we stick by in our daily work lives.

Life is complicated and you never know what others are tackling outside of work. As a parent, you may have stayed up all night with a sick baby or maybe your toddler (who kicks) decided she prefers sleeping in your bed! At Reaction, we understand and approach every day with the assumption we are all doing our best.

Erik, Software Engineer: “I don’t think I realized how often kids get sick before I became a parent. There were many times I had to take our engineering meetings from home with a sick kid in the background or sitting on my lap. I appreciate that my coworkers are not only ok with this, but often check in later on in the day to see if my son is feeling better because they genuinely care.”

Erik with his son, Asa

Build a village

As a distributed organization, Slack is our main communication tool, but we also use it to bond and build relationships asynchronously. Our #parenting channel (you don’t have to be a parent to join!) is a place for parents to commiserate, celebrate, share advice or cute pictures with each other.  

It’s nice to know that as parents or not, we’re all still on the same team at Reaction and are treated equally. We take time to get to know our co-workers, check in on one another and work together towards common goals.

One last story. Recently, due to a number of extenuating circumstances, I had no child care for my 3 year-old, Isabelle, so I reluctantly brought her to the office with me. I came armored with a backpack full of child distractions including  puzzles, coloring books, snacks and, of course, the trusty tablet. The day started out smoothly, but a few minutes into an important call, I noticed my daughter losing interest in what she was doing. As I muted the phone and prepared for the worst, Sara (our CEO and co-founder!) quietly ushered her away.  Before I knew it, they were cozied up by the window and gleefully played for the remaining duration of my call.

This simple and generous gesture showed me that as a working parent, with the right support, it is possible to do it all.

Isabelle and Grace. Photo courtesy of Sara
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