According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 23% of women have access to paid maternity leave in the United States. As a driving force in the workplace, women juggle the pressures of a job including meeting deadlines, exceeding goals and expectations, and ensuring their creativity and ideas leads to better functionality of a company. In addition to these things, women shouldn’t have to juggle the pressures of maintaining a copacetic work-life balance or having to choose between their job and their family. Unfortunately, in the United States, paid maternity leave isn’t readily available, leaving women to have to make that difficult and unfair choice. With the majority of women not able to access paid maternity leave, most are back in the office two weeks after giving birth. This disparity for working women leads to strained physical and mental health and ultimately to a decline of women in the workplace.
At Ceres Terminals, we understand the importance of families. Employees should not have to make the decision to choose between their job and their family. Our goal as a company is to be able to provide an inclusive environment to all of our employees that allows them to take the time and space they need to provide and care for their families. We are proud to be able to offer full-paid maternity and paternity leave, with no pre-requisite of time employed at the company. Our inclusive program is designed to support mothers, fathers, and the working family, as they walk through the transition of parenthood.
Margaret Baker started with Ceres at the end of 2020, and just like many women, she found herself in a senior management job burdened by the pressure of maintaining a work-life balance. Being overworked and unable to find the time to connect with her kids, Margaret found herself in the spot of having to choose between working her way up in the company and making time for her family. Ultimately, she had to choose her family. After taking time off of working, Margaret said she jumped at the opportunity to work at Ceres, noting that it was attractive to work for a company where she could excel and fulfill not only her career, but her work-life balance. When Margaret found herself expecting a new baby girl, the stress of worrying about finances during her time off made its way back to the forefront of her mind, as the state alleges you don’t qualify for paid maternity leave unless you have worked for a company for a year, which Margaret had not at the time. However, the value of our employees exceeds the days on a calendar, and we were thrilled to be able to offer Margaret paid maternity leave. Margaret’s daughter, Gabby, ended up being in the hospital for two weeks when she was born. Margaret said, “To know I was fully covered through Ceres, was huge. We had large expenses and Ceres helped take care of me. I also have two other girls who need care, so I was able to provide for them. This was a huge relief.” Margaret lives in Nashville, TN with her family and daughters Sophia, Ella, and Gabby.
Mariana Barrios works for Ceres as a manager in finance. She is expecting a baby girl soon. Mariana was hoping to take time off of work to bond with the baby and adjust to life with a new baby in the home. However, she found herself worrying about how to compensate for the pay she would lose. She was worried her husband would not get to take enough time off to properly bond with the new baby and provide support, as he would now have to take on the financial weight of two salaries. When hearing about Mariana’s concerns, Ceres made the call to provide paid family leave to Mariana, something that goes wildly against the current standards of corporate America. Mariana can feel at peace going into the birth of her new child knowing she doesn’t have to worry about finances during her time off, and she can focus solely on her family. Of the upcoming leave, Mariana says, “I’m very thankful and this is unexpected to me. This is great news when I found out. I’m grateful that I can take the time off without any major concerns about my work. This makes me excited to come back after everything is done.” Mariana lives in Nashville with her husband, daughter Olivia, and a new baby girl on the way.
At Ceres Terminals, we hope to pave the way in setting new standards to support the working family, including offering extended paid maternity and paternity leave to our employees. These inclusive programs allow employees to be able to perform their job better, knowing they have a company who cares for their well-being. Our employees are not just a number—they are people with loved ones and families, and the company is actively pursuing initiatives to support employees both in the office and at home. Providing paid family leave is beneficial to both employee and the employer. Paid maternity leave leads to higher retention rates, an increase in productivity and creativity, inclusive policies help to attract new talent, and it supports both the mental and physical well-being of employees. People want to work at a company that cares for them and gives them an opportunity to care for their families, and in-turn, employees can be the best version of themselves in the workplace when their work-life and home-life aren’t competing against each other. Because Margaret Baker felt supported in her maternity leave, she is able to feel confident in her decision to work for Ceres. She says, “People reach out to me about other jobs, but I am loyal to Ceres because they are loyal to me”.
Ceres Terminals will continue the work to foster an inclusive environment for all of its employees, and we are excited paid leave for both mothers and fathers is a great step in the right direction. Maintaining a home-life balance in the workplace is the key to improving functionality, fostering loyalty, retaining employees, and creating an atmosphere where employees feel heard and safe. We as a company seek to be leaders in everything we do and that includes paving the way to support the working family in the best way we can. We are committed to improving the lives of our employees both at the office and at home.
Ceres is a leader among marine terminal operators and stevedores in North America. Operating in many of North America’s major marine ports, the Company provides terminal management as well as services for all types of cargo, including container, bulk, breakbulk, automotive, project, military, cruise, intermodal facilities, RO/RO operations, and M&R services. For more information about our policies, benefits, and Diversity & Inclusion benefits, please visit our website at ceresglobal.com.
Mariana Barrios, Manager, Management Discussion and Analysis (Finance)
Margaret Baker, Manager, FP&A