How this mom’s frustrating job search experience fueled a parent-first movement in the tech industry by leading Indeed’s Parents & Caregivers Inclusion Resource Group
In 2019, Sherrie Nguyen received an enticing job offer in product marketing from a tech startup. She wanted the role and was ready to sign – until she got their benefits package and noticed one glaring issue: they offered no paid parental leave.
Sherrie turned the job down, but not without first giving the tech company suggestions for how their benefits can be structured to better include and support employees with growing families. After all, they had claimed they were looking to attract more senior hires (the career-level range when most people have children).
One year later, the company introduced a 20-week paid parental leave policy.
At that moment, Sherrie realized two things: often, parents are not valued in tech. But if you advocate loudly for change, you can make a difference.
Now at Indeed, Sherrie decided to act again. She started the Parents and Caregivers Inclusion Resource Group (IRG), where caregivers of all kinds (not just parents) can feel supported through family-first initiatives at work. But the pandemic hit right before the program could formally launch. Sherrie took to Slack, building a community of over 1,000 Indeed employees within one week.
It turns out caregiver support is crucial to employees of all ranks, and companies need to do better.
Keep reading to learn how Sherrie founded the Parents & Caregivers IRG, supports her own family, and drives change in the tech industry in her Q&A with Parentaly. Dive deeper below.
A Q&A with Sherrie Nguyen
Q: What was the impetus to start the group? Why now?
“Unfortunately the impetus started with my own feelings of exclusion and marginalization in my job search. In early 2019, I received a job offer from a tech startup with over 100 people (recently acquired by a larger company), and when they sent me the benefits package to review, I was shocked to discover there was no paid parental leave.
They had told me they wanted to hire senior talent, and the hiring manager was a new dad himself. I let them know that senior talent like me would look at the entire compensation plan, and they would also be in a similar life stage, contemplating starting their own families.
Not having a paid leave policy was a deal-breaker for me. When I turned down the job, I sat down with the hiring manager and shared resources for on-site lactation rooms and what I thought a great paid leave policy could look like (with competitive offerings from other tech companies). I walked away with confidence and didn’t think I’d look back. A year later I happened upon a press release that the company rolled out a 20-week paid leave policy.
This cemented two things for me: moms were not valued in the workplace, and the workplace culture was inherently opposed to quality caregiving. But I also realized the power of my voice and speaking up - it can create big change.
I decided to found the Parents and Caregivers Inclusion Resource Group (IRG) and applied to add our 10th IRG to Indeed by the end of 2019. With the support of our executive leadership team, it was approved by Christmas. By March 2020, when Indeed went into lockdown due to the pandemic, we weren’t yet ready to officially launch. I simply started a slack channel and within the week there were over 1,000 members (1/10 of Indeed’s population).
Our members have been the empathetic, supportive community I needed during an impossibly stressful time, and I’m so grateful. We launched formally as an IRG in May 2020.
Note: At the time I decided to apply, LaFawn Davis, Group VP of ESG at Indeed just started as the head of Diversity Inclusion. She gave me incredible advice to make the IRG more inclusive by addressing caregivers. She told me that not everyone would relate to being a parent; some people may never want to have children. But in their lifetime, everyone will need care or have to care for someone else. We bring more people together if we are inclusive.”
Q: One of the first things you did was send out a survey - what exactly did the survey find?
“As a Product Marketer, one of the most crucial things I do in my job is understand my customers’ pain points and needs. Before I applied to found the Parents and Caregivers IRG in 2019, I decided to survey a group of Indeed moms on Slack to understand how our IRG could serve them.
The top results in order: more flexible work policies, more moms represented in leadership, mentorship for moms, and longer paid leave. Other write-ins included financial support for childcare, broader benefits coverage, more equitable policies, and manager training for how to support parents going on and returning from leave. This made me realize that the biggest requests didn’t require a budget but rather more empathy and willingness to understand needs and meet people where they are.”
Q: Tell us about how you built the leadership team - what roles did each person play? And why did you decide to split responsibilities this way?
“I actually had a ton of help with this from our Diversity Inclusion and Belonging team. Since Parents and Caregivers was the 10th IRG at Indeed, there was already a structure in place. However, when we became a formal IRG, Indeed introduced quarterly bonuses for all IRG leaders (we have hundreds worldwide!).
We have leadership teams for each region (Americas, EMEA, and APAC). Each region has an executive team that includes two co-chairs and a Finance, Community Engagement, Communications, Events, Development lead. Last year we added two additional leads to focus on allyship and benefits/policies.
Belonging is one of Indeed’s 5 cultural pillars, so we see ourselves as more than an employee resource; we are creating business impact from building Indeed’s brand recognition to acquiring more diverse talent to retaining and developing team members. We’re also committed to reducing barriers for job seekers, especially those who may have a gap in employment due to caregiving. This means our IRG touches many aspects of Indeed’s business from PR to Advertising to Training to Product.”
Q: What are the main goals of the Parents & Caregivers IRG? How do you prioritize what to focus on?
“Our mission is to empower all parents and caregivers to thrive throughout all stages of the caregiving journey. Our vision is work-life integration so every parent and caregiver can show up authentically and succeed.
Our OKRs (objectives and key results) for every IRG include: removing bias and barriers through education and awareness, building inclusive products and teams, and creating a sense of belonging. We tie all of our events and initiatives back to these pillars and partner with other IRGs to make a collective impact. As the tenth IRG at Indeed, we are also highly intersectional. We prioritize lifting the voices of under-represented groups because many of them are parents and caregivers themselves.”
Q: What is the role of executive sponsors? How exactly do they partner with you?
“Our executive sponsor is incredible. He’s a father and has experience with caregiving. He serves as a coach, advocate, and change-maker for us. After only a few months as our new sponsor, he worked with our Finance team to secure budget for managers to backfill people who take parental leave. This enables managers to hire a contractor or provide a bonus to team members who take on additional responsibilities during this time. This was a huge breakthrough to ease the common burden teams feel when employees take parental leave and ensure the business can continue to meet objectives.”
Q: Many ERG leaders tell us that they are limited by the fact that they do not have any budget. Your IRG does have a budget. Why do you think this is important? And how do you think about maximizing the ROI of the budget allocated to this IRG?
“Simply put, you get what you put in. Our budget enables us to take big swings like booking speakers who broaden and deepen our awareness of caregiving needs and piloting programs like Parentaly’s Parents in Tech. I measure ROI by growth in members, events, referrals, hires, and whether members feel a sense of belonging.”
Q: There’s been a lot written about how companies need to pay IRG/ERG leaders because this is REAL work that is very valuable and also takes up employees’ time. Can you share details about how Indeed compensates its IRG leadership?
“Indeed compensates its IRG leaders quarterly. We started with a flat rate and will soon roll out a performance-based compensation.”
Q: How do you partner with the People team at Indeed? How do you ensure that your priorities get support from them?
“The People team is one of our best partners at Indeed! They’ve brought new benefits like virtual tutoring, pediatric care, mental health services, and expansion of policies such as including miscarriage and stillbirth in our bereavement policy. We have a Regional Lead for benefits/policies who brings our top needs, data, and stories to the People team for consideration.”
Q: In your opinion, why should every company have a parents and caregivers IRG?
“Not only do parents and caregivers make up a huge percent of the population, more people are caring for young kids and aging parents simultaneously. And the future of work demands empathy, flexibility, and family-friendly policies for companies to retain its workers and serve their customers. A diverse and healthy workforce leads to innovation and profits. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s good for business.”
Q: What advice would you give to someone reading this who works at a company that doesn’t have a parents and caregivers IRG, but wants to start one? What should they do first to get one started?
“I’d say, think big but start small. Include caregivers and try to identify and understand the needs of marginalized populations within your community. But then, just start. For me, it was simply a Slack channel that created a safe space to connect and belong.”
Q: How do you measure and monitor success and impact of the parents and caregivers IRG?
We measure impact to our OKRs and use hard metrics plus survey data. I measure ROI by growth in members, event attendance, referrals, hires, and whether members feel a sense of belonging.
Q: Any resources you can share with us related to ERG support/formation?
- Caregiving ERG Toolkit by AARP
- How to Build an Effective ERG
- How to Support Parents and Caregivers in the Workplace
Sherrie’s bite-sized interests and recommendations:
- Cooking or meal planning: Delegate. My husband does all of this plus grocery shopping, so you’ll have to ask him ;)
- Fitness: I love to swim. You’ll find me at Barton Springs pool in Austin, TX at least once a week. Otherwise, I take walks and use the time to listen to a podcast, chat with a friend, have a 1:1 with a colleague, or simply observe nature.
- Self-care and spirituality: Therapy, meditation, writing, alone time to recharge, naps, and self-led tarot card readings. My spiritual place is anywhere in water.
- Traveling with kids: I avoided flying until my daughter was 2.5 and potty trained. We did road trips mostly. I like to vacation with friends who have kids and delegate things to bring!
- Streamlining the morning routine: Allow yourself space to enjoy time together and not rush. Since working from home, I time-block an hour on my calendar every morning so I don’t have meetings to start my day. In the time I used to commute, I now do breakfast at home with my daughter, a slow drop-off at daycare, then workout, meditate, deep work, or just enjoy a hot cup of coffee before opening my laptop.