What started as an email to coworkers asking for a missing piece to a pump, grew into a breastfeeding support group that brings lactation professionals on-site; a network of current, future, and veteran breastfeeding women; and easy access to emergency supplies. Members of the group, MilQ, sat down with me to share the story of how they cultivated a community for women employees at Qualcomm Incorporated Headquarters.
A common struggle these women personally experience is how to balance being a successful mom and working woman. As a breastfeeding mom, the hat never comes off. Even when you are physically away at work, you are still pumping to feed and nourish your baby every two to three hours. You now have to wear two hats: successful mom and successful employee. The tasks and actions of being a successful mom and successful employee may be different, but the path to achieving each are more similar than different.
As Kjirsten Tokushima, SPHR, Employee Relations at Qualcomm Incorporated stated in her Breastfeeding– It’s Not Only a Right, It’s Smart Business presentation, “It’s a simple philosophy: When employees are happy, they’re more productive. A big part of what makes them happy is the ability to balance the demands of a career, family and the need for leisure time.”MilQ was created about two years ago during a brainstorming session that led the group to become a club under Qualcomm’s work life program, Qliving. With the club’s budget, they have been able to bring lactation consultants on campus and provide emergency supplies in case a mom forgets a pump part. The group only continues to grow and has exciting ideas for the future.
More often than not, breastfeeding support groups become more than just a place to talk about breastfeeding. Conversations branch into other aspects of motherhood such as self-care, perceived pressures, and emotional rollercoasters. “Be kind to yourself” is a message MilQ members like to remind each other. Breastfeeding support groups are also a way for women to not feel alone; a way to connect with others going through similar experiences. It’s great to have one in your workplace because you already have a connection with everyone in the group.
What may have started from an email asking for a missing pump piece, really was rooted in the need for a community of others that understood the emotional part of missing that one.small.piece.