CBIA BizCast: Nessel Helps New Moms Return to Work
Returning to the workplace after maternity leave is a significant moment in a woman’s life and career.
And for mothers who are breastfeeding, having a dedicated and comfortable lactation space at work goes a long way toward making them feel supported by their employers.
But those spaces aren’t always available.
That’s where Nessel comes in.
CEO Stephanie Boms and COO Della Leapman founded the New Haven company to provide lactation accommodation spaces to companies and organizations.
“We provide lactation furniture, we provide lactation pods, we do custom design work, and we do consulting to help do some executive education,” said Boms.
“Our mission is to transform organizations and really help support working women when they return from maternity leave.”
Leapman, a trained architect, said the inspiration for the company came after returning from maternity leave with her daughter.
“I sort of looked around at the climate and the environment that was being kind of set out for women and parents who are returning to work,” she said.
“I felt like there was just a really big area for growth and sort of supporting women and parents in this moment and also doing something that was really beautiful and meaningful.”
Nessel actually launched during the pandemic, when many people were away from the office.
Boms and Leapman said they shifted to focus not only on their lactation accommodations, but also portable hand-washing stations and helping employers create healthy workplaces.
“We were able to meet demand in that moment and then be able to still pivot to now that people are returning to the office, to sort of go back to our core roots, which is really to focus on creating lactation space accommodations,” Boms said.
Those accommodations include the lactation station, an all-in-one piece of furniture for breast-feeding moms with a sink, refrigerator, electrical outlets, a sliding desk and an internal plumbing system.
“I think one of the barriers to creating a great space is that there’s a misperception that you need to do construction that’s going to be expensive, that it will be disruptive,” Boms said.
“The idea was really to address some of the challenges and reduce the barriers for organizations to create this space.”
Nessel also works with businesses to create custom options, and offers consulting for them to understand laws and regulations like the Pump Act and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
They also try to educate organizations about the benefits these spaces provide for an entire workforce, not just breastfeeding mothers.
“There is a momentum to create a culture where employers not just need to do it because it’s the right thing to do, but now there’s a compliance piece of it,” Boms said.
Women in the Workforce
Leapman and Boms said companies are making an effort to bring more women into the workforce, after many left during the pandemic.
“Companies that are going to be focusing on recruiting and retaining women, I think are going to have an eye on what they can do to be inclusive and supportive of all workers,” Boms said.
“I think it just speaks volumes to a company culture to say we know this is critical to the culture of our company to have this available,” Leapman said.
“You think about, holistically, at what an employee’s life looks like and how you can be supportive.”
Leapman and Boms said they work with a range of clients and industries including the military, manufacturers, health care systems, and large and small corporate firms.
“This is an issue that affects anyone who’s coming back to work, who needs to pump. So it doesn’t really matter what the size of the organization is,” Leapman said.
“It’s not just that we’re working with these premier companies and organizations,” Boms said.
“But really, we look to see how what we’re doing is creating a better life for someone, creating a better experience.”
Boms and Leapman said their goal is to not only serve their customers and clients, but also help women during a vulnerable moment of their lives and careers.
“It’s about the emotional impact of how does one balance being a mother and working at the same time,” Leapman said.
“It really has a lifetime of an impact on how you feel about your career advancements that you might make, decisions that you might make going forward.”
“I think as people re-envision what it means to work coming out of the pandemic,” added Boms “I think that there’s only opportunity for us to better support each other, to be more holistic in how we acknowledge what someone’s life looks like and what they need.”
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