Founder Profile: Allison Whalen
Tell us a bit about your company
At Parentaly, we partner with companies to improve the experience of parental leave, primarily via our coaching-based programs that focus on minimizing business disruption and maximizing the careers of working parents.
What inspired you to start your business / what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?
When an employee goes on parental leave, there are often significant disruptions to the employee’s career progression, organizational dynamics, and business outcomes. As parental leave expands in coverage eligibility and duration, the guidance to employees taking leave and managers supporting them is absent. Without thoughtful plans in place, parental leaves of 8+ weeks can lead to stalled projects, overburdened teams, and business deliverables missed. When the employee returns, they are overwhelmed trying to figure out how to get back up to speed and navigate a new normal. Most managers and individuals will only go through a parental leave a few times (at most) in their careers, so they need guidance and support to navigate the experience. While insurance companies and other vendors are increasing support for medical and mental health of new parents, no one is directly supporting employees’ career planning during this transition.
What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?
Our biggest wins are always when we get feedback from employees who have completed our program. In addition, we have been able to magnify our impact by working with several Fortune 500 companies to implement our programs at scale.
What about your personal background, experience, or perspective fuels your passion for this venture?
I had my first child when I was working at a fast-paced VC-backed startup. I was a manager, and had no examples or guidance on how to navigate parental leave. All I heard about was “43% of women drop out of the workforce after having children.” But I didn’t want to drop out of the workforce! I had a really difficult return to work after parental leave — my team missed goals because of my leave, my direct reports were upset — and I realized how so much of this disruption and discouragement would have been avoided if only I had better support and guidance in place. It was shocking to me to see how virtually no companies have support systems in place to help all employees navigate parental leave from a business/career perspective.
What has been one or two of the biggest learnings so far?
One major learning has been how much we need to customize our programs based on each client’s goals and pain points. Some clients really need manager training, others are more worried about coverage planning, and others are focused on the return to work experience.
How can the WAFFA community help you?
We recently launched a small group coaching program for “Expecting Parents in Tech” which allows smaller companies to enroll expecting employees into a program at an affordable rate and benefit from networking and peer community. We’d love for the WAFFA community to know about this program in case they want to enroll / sponsor / circulate this information: https://parentaly.ac-page.com/expecting-parents-in-tech
Anything else you want to mention?
We recently launched a new initiative to profile working parents — sharing examples, tips, and tricks from parents who became better at their jobs after having children. We feel that these stories aren’t often told, and yet, successful working parents are all around us. Check out the profiles here (https://www.parentaly.com/profiles) and you can sign up to get them in your inbox as we publish a new profile every two weeks. Also, if you want to be profiled please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org — we’re always looking for new and different stories to share!