Attendees of the first CUES RealTalk! program describe how they’ve celebrated fatherhood.
The Zoom chat went wild with messages of support when panelist Jill Nowacki, CEO of Humanidei + O’Rourke suggested during the first-ever CUES RealTalk! program that organizations could set the tone for gender equity by throwing baby showers for expecting dads.
In addition, several participants said they had already done so. They contributed their experiences and best advice to this article.
Mortgage Services Team’s Fun Committee Has Long Hosted Showers
The 130-employee mortgage services team at Mountain America Credit Union has been hosting baby showers for all employees for at least 12 years—as long as CUES member Jennifer Bass has been a part of it.
Before the pandemic, “we had a ‘fun committee,’ and they would put our parties together,” explains Bass, AVP/mortgage operations for the $13 billion credit union in Sandy, Utah. “We would invite our employee, their spouse or significant other, and the entire team to attend a late afternoon shower. The area would be decorated, and treats would be served. The guests of honor would unwrap gifts.”
Employees were invited to participate by bringing gifts or donating money for the fun committee to use to purchase gifts. No one was required to do so.
“Since COVID, we have not been doing in-person parties,” Bass adds. “But we still collect funds from employees and have a member of the fun team purchase, wrap and deliver gifts from everyone. Everyone is grateful and usually overwhelmed with the generosity.”
While Bass hopes that in-person gatherings may be possible sometime soon, she suggests making these events fun, casual and comfortable for everyone involved regardless of format. “You don’t have to play games,” she notes.
Small Staff Supports One Another
In October 2021, the five-member staff of VSU Federal Credit Union took up a collection so that Katrina Peerman could buy gifts and a card for a male staff member’s newborn.
With such a small team, “this was an easy decision,” says Peerman, CEO of the $12 million credit union in S. Chesterfield, Virginia. “He was very appreciative. He was surprised since he’s a fairly new employee.”
Peerman says the credit union’s team will continue to support male staff members who become new dads, just as it would any female staff members who become new moms. She offers some advice for organizations considering hosting baby showers for their male employees.
“We need to be considerate of men who are dads, because it’s a new experience for them as it is for moms. As more and more dads are becoming single dads raising children, they need to know that they are supported by their employer.”
Industry Organization Celebrates Staff Equally
SVP of CUES Supplier member Callahan and Associates, Katy Slater says her company views its culture as extremely important and is intentional about nurturing it.
“We see each associate as an individual,” Slater explains. “For as long as I’ve been with the firm (eight-plus years), we have recognized the major milestones for our team regardless of gender, role or tenure. This includes graduations, weddings (groom showers) and baby showers.”
For wedding and baby showers, Callahan buys a big gift, and the associates chip in for more gifts, she adds.
“We get the registry information and buy as many gifts as possible,” Slater says. “It’s important to note that this is both firm-supported and associate-driven. We invite the spouse/fiancé to join us, so it’s a family affair.
“Since COVID these have been virtual, but prior to that they were in person with Callahan-provided beverages and snacks,” she continues. “When we were in person, it was so much fun to see a table stacked high with wrapped gifts. During the pandemic, the celebrations went virtual, and when possible, our office manager would deliver the gifts and special treats to the associate’s house at the time of the celebration. We do try to surprise the associate, if at all possible. We put a fake appointment on their calendar and get all stealthy with the set-up and gifts.”
Staff members are very appreciative.
“We hosted a groom shower (during the COVID-19 shutdown) for a new associate who had been with the firm for less than one month,” Slater says. “He and his fiancé were blown away by this event. Tenure and role don’t matter; every associate is worthy of celebrating, and we treat them all the same (from CEO to intern, from our longest-tenured person to our newest hire). These events make our associates feel seen and appreciated. They are so appreciative of the genuine caring they feel during these events.”
As your organization considers how it celebrates milestones in employees’ lives, “think about how you would feel—and replicate that,” Slater says. “I love Maya Angelou’s saying, ‘People may forget what you said or what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.’ Create the feelings! A little kindness goes a long way. It can change the company culture one person at a time.”
Lisa Hochgraf is senior editor for CUES.