Saturday, February 18, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Imashi Fernando, Montana State University, Montana INBRE, Gallatin City-County Health Department, Bozeman, MT
This study was initiated to discover how the Healthy Gallatin Lactation Education Program can use a “Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Award” to collaborate with local businesses to increase the quantity and quality of breastfeeding friendly worksites in Bozeman, MT, and how doing so can help normalize the idea of breastfeeding within the community. This initiative was inspired by similar projects carried out successfully on a state-wide scale in Texas and Missouri, where employers were encouraged to develop breastfeeding policies that supported their employees’ needs in exchange for an award of recognition. This included a framed certificate, window clings, and quarterly press releases in the local media, which helped endorse the idea of breastfeeding within the community. In Texas, this led to more businesses being willing to provide worksite breastfeeding support to employees. This study explores the first of the three phases of development and implementation of the “Healthy Gallatin Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Award”. Here, approximately 20 businesses in Bozeman (65% local businesses and 35% corporations) were approached, and each business’s interest and willingness to participate was assessed. The results discuss employer responses to the initiative, both positive and negative, and how the Healthy Gallatin Lactation Education Program can use this feedback to further develop the project in order to approach more businesses in the community with success. It was found that 95% of the approached businesses already have either a written or orally communicated breastfeeding policy in place, but 75% of these businesses were not aware of what federal and state laws on breastfeeding dictate. The results also show that the best way to approach a business depends on whether it is a locally owned business or a branch of a corporation. A phone call followed by a face-to-face meeting was the most successful way to approach a local business, but an email was best in the case of a corporation. However, at the conclusion of this study, there were no definitive responses from 95% of the corporations approached. While this is just the beginning of an ongoing initiative, the results of this study show that effectively approaching businesses is critical to the successful implementation of this program, which all businesses approached agreed will encourage more communication on the topic of breastfeeding in the community, protect breastfeeding mothers from harassment in and out of the workplace, and help our community view breastfeeding with a more positive attitude.