When Fifth Third Bank launched the Maternity Concierge program for its employees, its goal was to help retain women employees. After a year with the program, the Bank has found that women who enrolled in it were almost 25 percent more likely to remain at the bank six months after returning from maternity leave than women who didn’t use the program.

Charnella Grossman, a portfolio manager for Fifth Third Bank, with her daughters, Elise Grossman, 10 months, (left) and Kenna Grossman, 2.

In its first year, more than 400 women used the Bank’s free Maternity Concierge – created for pregnant women and new mothers – for services as varied as researching child care to planning gender reveal parties.

The Bank found that 86 percent of women who enrolled in the Maternity Concierge program – either during pregnancy or when they returned to work – remained at work six months after taking leave, compared to 62 percent of the women who didn’t enroll in the program.

“Fifth Third’s Maternity Concierge program is one of the reasons that I want to stay and grow with the company,” said Charnella Grossman, a portfolio manager for Fifth Third and mother of two girls, a 2-year-old and a 10-month-old. “They helped me plan my daughter’s birthday party, decorate the nursery, waited for a delivery at my house and so many more things to help relieve the stress of coming back to work.”

That’s exactly what Chief Administrative Officer Teresa Tanner had in mind when she created the program with Best Upon Request, a Cincinnati-based national concierge business. Tanner knew the statistics: 60 percent of employees at the Bank are female, but only 23 percent of senior-level managers are female.

Something needed to change.

Tanner learned that women who took maternity leave left the bank in the 12 months after returning to work at twice the rate of other women. While leave was important, the transition period back was important, too.

“This is a particularly difficult time in women’s lives – going back to work with a new baby,” she said. “We want to support women, to give them another layer of help as they return to work if that’s what they want to do. As a company, we feel it’s our responsibility to help with that transition.”

The Maternity Concierge program is offered at Fifth Third’s corporate headquarters in Cincinnati as well as virtually throughout the Bank’s 10-state footprint. The program benefit begins at pregnancy and women work directly with a concierge specializing in maternity needs, who can help with everything from ordering a breast pump through insurance or scheduling meal deliveries. The Bank has since added new benefits for parents including adding free breast milk shipping during work travel and a new financial empowerment component to help new parents plan for new expenses – from day care to college savings. The Bank last year also made available four weeks of baby bonding time for new parents (birth, adoptive or foster).

More than three-quarters of women who used the program said they are more likely to stay at Fifth Third because of the service, according to a survey the Bank conducted this spring.

Branch Manager Katie Ockerman said: “I couldn’t continue to work without the Maternity Concierge program. With three little kids, including twins, I’m always juggling. This lets me concentrate on work when I’m at work and on home when I’m at home.”

Tanner said the first-year results are heartening and that the Bank will continue to review the Maternity Concierge program for continuous improvement. “We’re never going to be the best bank for our customers and shareholders unless we have diversity at all levels, at the most senior levels,” she said.