Corporate Voices for Working Families has issued a response to the U.S. Surgeon General’s “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding,” released today, emphasizing the need for creating a broader awareness of the tools and resources that are available to both employers and employees to effectively support nursing mothers at work.

Dr. Regina M. Benjamin’s “Call to Action” encourages a community-wide approach to support breastfeeding to improve public health. It emphasizes breastfeeding’s important health benefits and calls for the removal of barriers to breastfeeding by creating supportive environments for nursing mothers within families, communities, the health care profession and within the business community.

Corporate Voices recognizes that a critical barrier to breastfeeding is the workplace. Although the Affordable Care Act now requires employers to provide support for nursing mothers, we believe there is still much to be done to make tools and resources available to employers to help them implement successful and sustainable lactation programs.

Making high-quality, practical tools, like Corporate Voices’ workplace lactation toolkit*, widely available to the business community will be a critical step in removing a significant barrier to breastfeeding for many mothers—especially those in hourly or lower-wage positions. Tools like these will help employers comply with federal law, encourage economic self-sufficiency among working families and will help employers adopt progressive management strategies for 21st century success.

As Stephen M. Wing, Corporate Voices’ president, said in a press release announcing our response:

Employers that provide time and space for mothers to pump milk at work are embracing a progressive management strategy that will enhance their bottom line. Research has shown that lactation programs help improve employer recruitment and retention, and reduce absences and health care costs. Employers that recognize the business benefits of breastfeeding play a critical role in promoting economic self-sufficiency among lower-wage working families—especially vital during these tough economic times.

*Corporate Voices will launch an updated, online version of this toolkit with expanded resources in multiple languages in early 2011.