Liberal Democrats lead the charge with introduction of Parental Leave and Pay Arrangements (Publication) Bill

We’re thrilled to see the Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Jo Swinson leading a cross-party push to bring a Private Member’s Bill[1] that would require businesses with 250+ staff to be transparent and publish information on their parental leave and maternity/paternity/adoption and shared parental leave pay policies, in a bid to combat maternity discrimination.

A successful return to work after extended leave, be it maternity, paternity, sickness or sabbatical needs careful thought and management from both the employer and employee, and finding the healthy, sustainable balance between work and other commitments can still feel a challenge from both sides. We feel positive that the introduction of this Bill and the publicity it generates will encourage more open and honest relations between organisations and employees, in the quest to ensure that talent is not overlooked, discouraged, nor penalised.

This public Bill, introduced by Swinson in the House of Commons on June 6th 2018, is sponsored by Nicky Morgan, the former Tory cabinet minister, Harriet Harman, David Lammy and Gareth Thomas from the Labour Party, Caroline Lucas, the Green Party’s co-leader, and Alison Thewliss of the SNP. Whilst not part of planned Government legislation, the Bill would be a simple regulatory change that could lead to significant benefits for working parents.

Jill Miller, diversity and inclusion adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, described Swinson’s proposal as an “encouraging move”, adding that “increased transparency about parental leave policies shines a spotlight on an organisation’s offering and could help break the taboo of employees and prospective employees asking about their entitlements, which many are often reluctant to do”.

The introduction of this Bill is one of several significant developments in the last week alone, with the publication of the Treasury Select Committee’s Women in Finance report further reinforcing the need for change around the stigma of flexible working and parental leave to ensure that women are not held back in their careers.

Jessica Chivers, CEO of The Talent Keeper Specialists and author of Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work (Hay House, 2011), says “Clients are always asking us what other organisations are doing in this space. They’re keen for confirmation that they’re not missing anything obvious as well as looking for other best practices they can weave into their policies and practices. Benchmarking will give employers the information they’re looking for and cross-pollinate practices from different sectors.”

 

[1] Private Members’ Bills – or backbench Bills – are introduced by individual MPs or members of the Lords rather than by the Government. As with other Public Bills their purpose is to change the law as it applies to the general population. Very few Private Members’ Bills become law but, by creating publicity around an issue, they may affect legislation indirectly.

*We would like to give credit for the photo used in this article, but we don’t know where it came from!

 

Andy Haldane’s Recruitment Challenge

Founder of the 30% Club, ex-CEO of Newton Asset Management and mother of nine, Helena Morrissey is full of sage advice for business leaders and women who want to see gender balance in the workplace in her book “A Good Time to Be a Girl”. One of our favourite extracts is the re-counting of Andy Haldane’s advice on how to increase diversity in teams.

I had the opportunity to share this with the London team of recruitment consultants at Huxley/SThree last month and think it’s an idea we need to spread far and wide.

From the chapter How CEOs can break the diversity barrier:

Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England, gave an insightful speech on diversity in 2016, entitled ‘The Sneetches’, after Dr Seuss’ children’s story of the same name, a parody of status and discrimination first published in 1961. In his speech Haldane challenged CEOs to consider whether their recruitment process really did encourage diversity.

The Recruitment Challenge

There are two candidates for a position, A and B. They do a test based on attributes useful for the hiring organisation. These tests might be state of the art, including all the diverse attributes one would wish for in an organisation – cognitive, interpersonal and experientail skills.

In this test out of 10, candidate A scores 8 and candidate B scores 4. Which one should be hired? The answer is easy. The evidence points strongly to A as the candidate best meeting requirements for the job. They have quite literally, ticked the right boxes. But let’s add a twist. What if the answers A gets wrong are the ones B gets right? And what is the questions existing employees get wrong are also the ones B gets right? In other words, what if candidate B brings skills to the organisation which otherwise do not exist?

The right recruitment decision for the organisation is then to choose B rather than A. Candidate B adds more to the collective ability of the organisation, even though they are weaker individually. The question is, how often would existing recruitment practices deliver such an outcome? In practice I think rarely. Individuals are typically judged on the alignment between their skills and those of the existing organisation. It takes quite a leap of faith to choose the candidate whose skills are misaligned with the hiring organisation.

 

What is a returner programme?

A returner programme takes the concept of an internship and makes it relevant to people who have taken a career break and are looking to return to work. Typical programmes enable the individual to transition back into the workplace through a structured and specifically tailored programme. Participants either undertake a piece of relevant project work or step into a potentially available role providing them with the ability to demonstrate their suitability for longer term employment.

 

 

 

 

Is a returner programme relevant to my organisation?

Returner
If you agree with at least three of the following five statements, a returner programme is likely to be a useful tool for your organisation:

1. Your organisation has a stated goal (publicly or internally) of moving towards gender parity in specific areas or levels of your organisation.

2. There is a shortage of women in your industry.

3. Your CEO and/or executive team is aware of the link between gender diversity and increased financial performance.

4. Your organisation is struggling in one or more areas/levels to recruit and retain great* people.

5. Your internal or external recruitment team is failing to create gender balanced shortlists or you are hiring less women than you would like.

* We all have different definitions of what great is. We mean someone who delivers on agreed objectives and does it in such a way that other employees and clients would miss him or her if they left your business.

 

Which organisations are returner programmes NOT suitable for?
Returnship

  • Organisations who ‘measure’ who’s doing a good job by how much time they spend in the office
  • Organisations who are uncomfortable with the concept of flexible working
  • Organisations with a CEO who doesn’t know/believe research showing the link between gender diversity and profitability.

 

Why is it necessary to run a programme for returners?
Returnship

  • Most career returners have been applying to normal jobs and they don’t even get invited to an interview – this has resulted in a large talent pool that really wants to get back to work but is unable to do so. In a country with purported skills shortages it is crazy that we overlook this market.
  • Most jobs have countless applications and a recruiter or an internal resourcing team will short-list 4 or 5 for the line manager to review. The one with the CV gap is the one most likely to be taken off due to the biases. In 2012 there was a fascinating piece of research done in the US by a business called The Ladders[i]. Utilising scientific eye-tracking equipment they analysed how long the average recruiter looks at a CV, done over ten weeks. The average? Six seconds. And they look at your Current Title & Company and the Dates first. So if the first thing they see for a Returner is dates that highlight a break and no current employer then what hope is there for those six seconds?
  • There is still a stigma around flexible working in many organisations. Forward thinking businesses are embracing it, but overall far too many businesses suffer from presenteeism and clock watching. Many women when returning from a career break will require some form of flexibility in their role. Again during the recruitment process we are told that they are often uninvited to interview the minute they mention part-time or flexible working.

[i] http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-what-recruiters-look-at-during-the-6-seconds-they-spend-on-your-resume-2012-4?IR=T

 

Returnship
What’s the value of a returner scheme?
Returnship

We believe there are five key points of value.

For the organisation:

1. Talent and technical skills are on offer that your business may not have been able to access in your internal pipelines.

2. Candidates who have taken a break from their career bring diversity of experience  and thought to your business challenges.

3. Younger women want to see more, older women in their businesses; they want role  models and want to see working women at all stages of their career.

For the individual returner:

4. Participants are supported during the transition period through coaching and invaluable conversations with peers on the programme.

5. Delivery of a relevant and valued piece of work breeds self-confidence when seeking further employment. Participants go on to target roles commensurate with their skills and abilities.
Returnship

How long should it be, what should you pay?
Returnship 

There is no one size fits all approach to timing and pay.  Some schemes last 12 weeks, some 16 weeks and some are 6 months. Pay is usually dependent on what level of returner the organisation is seeking to attract. The best return to work programmes have had dual bandings if applicable to the talent presented. The most important thing is to ensure the returner, if hired after the programme, goes on to a salary that is commensurate with the role they are offered.
Returnship

If you would like to know more
Returnship

The Talent Keeper Specialists have partnered with Inclusivity (www.inclusivity.co.uk) to create a fresh, start-to-finish returner offering we think beats what’s currently on the market. From sourcing, screening and selection, through to induction, coaching and employability skills sessions during the programme.

If you’re not quite there yet and have cultural issues to tackle around flexible working or conscious/unconscious biases for example, let’s have a conversation. We design and deliver solutions to shape inclusive, positive workplaces. Please e-mail hello@talentkeepers.co.uk or call 01727 856169.

Talk to Jessica Chivers jc@talentkeepers.co.uk or call 01727 856169.

 

 

Bringing talent back – O2’s story

Over the summer we brought HR, D&I, talent and resourcing practitioners from organisations including Whitbread, EY, Accenture and Cap Gemini together to explore ways to uncover and bring back ‘hidden talent’. Thank you to Avanade & Accenture for hosting us and to O2 for sharing their story.

dan-on-advertising

O2

What and why a ‘hidden talent action tank’?

O2
When Jessica Chivers wrote the book, Mothers Work! she discovered vast numbers of women were returning to jobs not commensurate with their skills and abilities (all tied up with the flexible working/presenteeism problem that pervades UK workplaces). Fast forward to 2013 we piloted a workshop for the Chartered Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales aimed at supporting the return to work of members on maternity leave. What actually happened was a full room of women, the majority of whom were not on maternity leave, but those hungry to get back to work after 2-10 years out. They were struggling because the gap on the CV meant they were being overlooked – hence their pouncing on a workshop about getting back to work.

Since then we’ve run swathes of free maternity comeback and career comeback workshops (which participants love and have travelled 100s of miles to attend) but they don’t address the heart of the problem – the need for Heads of Resourcing, Talent and D&I practitioners to see the problem and commit to action. There’s just too much talent going to waste and this is a problem on many levels, but commercially speaking it doesn’t make sense when there’s still a ‘war for talent.’ Hence the ‘hidden talent action tank’ to drive change through peer idea exchange, including a spotlight on returner programmes as one tool for bringing talent back.

 

 

O2’s returner programme

O2
Andrea Jones, resourcing lead at O2, shared the telecoms giant’s experience of running a returner programme in the operations area of the business.

Many of us drew breath when she shared research stating most line managers would prefer to hire someone with less experience than a candidate who had been out of work for more than six months. “Six months!?” That’s less than most maternity leaves. The good news is the O2 scheme was hailed a rip-roaring success and The Talent Keeper Specialists expects more demand in 2016-2018 for returner programmes.

 

 

Key stats that drove O2’s decision to run a returner programme

O2

  • Managers would rather hire less qualified candidate over one who has been out for over 6 months
  • Gender diverse companies are 45% more likely to improve market share, achieve 53% higher returns on equity, and 70% more likely to capture new markets
  • For every 10% increase in gender diversity in the senior executive team, there is a 3.5% increase in financial performance.
  • 42% of millennial dads feel ‘burnt out’ most or all of the time
  • 40% of working women earn more than their partners
  • 1 million now work past 65
  • Only 17% of over 50s favour traditional retirement pattern as majority want to ease into retirement via part-time work
  • 50-60% of women returners want to work part-time
  • 34%-48% of women would like to work part-time
  • 27% of the UK workforce work part time. Of those, 74% are women
  • 44% of Generation Y rate work-life balance as a key driver in their career

we-need-to-confront-lazy-hiring

O2
Ten golden nuggets for improving gender balance

O2
We grappled with five questions in the ‘action’ part of the morning. People spoke with passion, others listened intently. Ten golden nuggets emerged for improving gender balance from the talent, HR, D&I and resourcing practitioners at the Action Tank:

  • 1) Confront lazy hiring – value finding the best talent over quick recruitment. This might mean looking in different places.
  • 2) Look beyond a candidate’s last role – many women’s careers aren’t linear and strengths are transferrable.
  • 3) Create more open job descriptions – countless capable candidates (internal and external) rule themselves out at the application stage because they don’t tick every box.
  • 4) See returners as assets – they’re fresh, motivated and hungry to put their minds to work. Returner programmes tap into ‘hidden talent’ and are a good news story for your business.
  • 5) Promote flexible working in job descriptions – and offer flexibility for employees already in business, not only after returning from maternity leave.
  • 6) Use gender balanced panels to make hiring decisions to reduce unconscious bias and avoid line managers hiring in their own image.
  • 7) Experiment with new recruiting processes, such as games, to assess people’s potential rather than relying on CVs.
  • 8) Focus on opening middle managers’ minds to how flexible and part-time working can fuel productivity and performance, and be of benefit to them personally.
  • 9) Showcase senior role models who work flexibly, recruit diverse teams and have high employee engagement scores – these are the people you want other managers to emulate.
  • 10) Don’t overlook introverts or make assumptions – actively encourage ‘quieter’ people (who may not talk openly about career aspirations)  to apply for promotions and stretch assignments.

Photograph of HRDs, Talent & Resourcing practitioners with their pledges of how they're going to 'mine' hidden talent

O2

6 pillars of success/what O2 learned:

O2

  • Target a specific area of the business where there’s a need/desire to recruit more women.
  • Have clear benefits, timelines and costs for setting up – make it easy for the business to say yes
  • Ask for referrals to the programme from employees and partners (this went down ‘really well’ at O2)
  • Assessment centre to be a two-way process and the agenda to kept ‘light’ with lots of networking and senior leadership team to attend
  • Be flexible about how the roles work
  • Resourcing and the Diversity & Inclusion teams to work in partnership

A returner programme for your organisation?

The Talent Keeper Specialists have partnered with Inclusivity Partners and developed a returner programme we think beats what’s on the market. If bringing talent back is on your agenda or you’re struggling to meet gender diversity targets, save yourself time, hassle and budget by meeting with us.

Contact Jessica Chivers to arrange a conversation: jc@talentkeepers.co.uk | @TalentKeepers | +44 (0)1727 856169

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Involved fathers, committed professionals


Committed professionals can be involved fathersOn a recent project for the Law Society of Scotland we heard some great examples of men doing their very best to be active fathers whilst still delivering commercial goals. Here are men in their own words reflecting on how to get off to a good start as a new father. 

“Be involved, be upfront with clients, prioritise sleep.”

“Your kids are only young once. If you don’t read to them or put them to bed now, you never will. And the benefits to your mental health are amazing. If you are zombified by a poor night’s sleep, tell your clients. Most of them will understand. Those that do not are likely to be “those clients” anyway. Sometimes, moving to another room is a survival technique if you want an uninterrupted night’s sleep – just be prepared to make up for it in other ways. Keep a picture of your children in easy view in your office; if your clients/colleagues/whoever are difficult, a look at your kids will make you smile no matter what. If you hadn’t before, learn to say no and leave the office promptly from time to time. If the culture is such that you’re expected to be there all hours God sends, you probably need to re-examine your priorities. First day of school? Take the day off and be there for them.”

Senior male solicitor, private practice @longmores

Chea Meakins“Draw boundaries, be focussed, get home for bathtime.”

“My wife and I worked out a routine fairly early on after our daughter was born. I would always be home to do the evening bath (subject to the unavoidable marketing/seminar engagements, but I try to limit these to 1 per week where possible). This means that I always have to work to a deadline and leave work at a certain time. Without this there is always the temptation to stay that little bit longer because there is always something else that can be done… The bath/getting ready for bed routine means I am always guaranteed at least one hour with my daughter per day. This sounds so little on paper but in reality a lot can be achieved within that time. I usually get back home an hour before bath time so in practice I get 2 -2.5 hours. This is also a huge relief to my wife who appreciates me taking over at the end of the day for those last few hours.”

Che Meakins, Solicitor, Rayden Solicitors @RaydensLaw

 

“Eat together and have a planned weekly late night at the office.”

“I’ve been very lucky to be able to balance work and fatherhood to give me lots of time with my daughter, and I am now nearly a year qualified and I feel I have also progressed hugely as a solicitor in the same time.   As I live walking distance from the office I would go home most lunch times and see my wife and child. I tried to ensure that I took my lunch each day to guarantee this time at home. I also designated Thursday evening as a ‘late night’ which I would work late before heading to my regular football practice. This meant I could head home on time the rest of the week. Having that one evening each week was really important allowing me to catch up or get on top of things outside office hours.”

Liam Colville, Solicitor, Debenhams Ottaway @DebenhamsOtt 

 

“Flexible working has made me more efficient.”

“There are 3 options in my view: Option 1 is ‘the continue as before’ in the knowledge that others are looking after your child well. Option 2 is to say that being a father is considerably more important than a career so you shift towards the “work to live” view. Option 3 is a mid-point between the other 2. If you intend to take option 3 then my suggestions would be as follows. First try to build a platform of a work pattern that is agreeable to both work and home. Come to an agreement with your partner that you feel allows you to be the involved Dad that you want to be whilst still allowing you to maintain your career progression (albeit at a slightly diminished rate for a period). Be disciplined. Leave work when you have agreed. This may mean having to say no to certain meetings etc. Equally, agree regular days when you will work late so you know that you can focus on work on those days. I have also found that my focus on making the flexible working pattern work (and be seen to work) has made me more efficient at work. My time management has improved due to my focus on, for example, getting everything done so I can leave to be home for bath time. Having both the set agreement and the discipline has, paradoxically, given me the flexibility to adapt such as to busy times at work where some flex in the agreement is needed or to take calls at home etc.”

Chris Purcell, Solicitor, in-house third sector.

  

OVER TO YOU

The following prompts are designed to help you consider how you can make a positive start to combining fatherhood and career.

  1. 1) How much leave will you take and when?
  2. 2) How much time will you strive to give to work and family each week?
  3. 3) What are your top professional priorities and how will you fit them into the time you have allocated to work?
  4. 4) What points do you need to discuss with your line manager?
  5. 5) What one thing can you start to do differently for the good of family life?

 

The Talent Keeper Specialists help men adjust to fatherhood through in-house seminars and one to one executive coaching. If you got something from this post you might also like:

Employers benefit by ‘talking flex’ when recruiting

Employers benefit from talking flex

In this opinion post Jessica Chivers shares her views on the competitive advantage gained by employers who state upfront on job adverts and at interview that there’s scope to talk flexible working.

“Should I mention that I’m really looking for four days a week rather than FT?”

“Will I put them off if I ask about flexible working at interview?”

“At what point in the hiring process is it best to ask about flexible options?”

These questions, and variations of, are commonplace in executive coaching sessions where women are exploring how to move on and/or up in their career.

It strikes me that many employers are missing a very real competitive advantage by not placing the words “up for talking flexibility’ on job adverts seeking mid to senior professionals for full time roles. This is particularly relevant if the organisation has made a public commitment to increasing the number of women at the top of their business, as say McKinsey has done. The employer is under no obligation to offer flex but by including these words, they’ve probably doubled the pool of people who might apply. A winning strategy, surely?

As an aside, McKinsey have just revealed their latest gender equality research (in conjunction with LeanIn.org) and show that women’s journey to the top is still appallingly slow. Change needs to come quickly.

In reality the onus is all too often on the candidates’ shoulders to ask about flexibility, and with so many stories about women noticing a negative change in the recruiter when they ask, it’s no wonder women hold back from applying for FT roles.

Where jobs adverts make no mention of flexibility, it would be useful if the recruiting manager ‘put it out there’ at the start of the interview (and not just when they’re interviewing females of a certain age – men want more flex too). “We’re advertising for a full time member of the team to be based predominantly in Manchester but depending on who we meet, there’s scope for the role to be done flexibly. We can talk about that further down the line.” There, easy.

I’m noticing a growing problematic pattern of women ‘choosing’ to stay in jobs they’ve outgrown because it gives them the flex they want (or more likely need) to be able to have a decent, wholesome family life where kids get help with their homework and at least one meal gets eaten together as a family.* There’s a belief that the only way to maintain this flex is to put it on hold, work full time for a new employer and prove oneself again (a hazy concept, but that’s an issue for another post) and then negotiate flex. The difficulty with this is it’s usually not that easy to switch to being an FT worker if you have children too young to have a key to the front door. For starters, the chances are you won’t be able to up your childcare to cover it.

A final point to ponder: could it be that the journey towards gender balance at the top of our organizations is slow because women are staying put when it’s time to move on? That they’re sacrificing stretch for flex and just not going after the next job? Giving women and men permission to discuss flexible working could be the key to change.

I’m optimistic that smart employers will soon start to print words to the effect of “up for talking flex” on their job ads and that their businesses will be all the better for it. I suspect we need some ballsy HR Directors to tap their CEOs on the shoulder to make it happen. Are you out there?

What do you think? Are you explicit about flexibility in your recruitment activities? Have you asked about flexibility at interview and had a good response?

 

* Yes, there are people without children who crave flex too. There are people with horses that need turning out each morning, there are people with elderly caring responsibilities and there are people who just want to have a darn good time at the weekend living a different life by the sea. They all want or need flex too and if they can get the job done without having their backsides on their swivel chair from 8.30-5.30pm every day then why not?)

 

Talent Fueller – Katarina Fidler, Carillion

Kat FidlerTalent Fueller Interview with Katarina Fidler, Carillion.

“Talent Fueller” is our name for individuals who are working to keep, support and fuel female talent whether part of their role or ‘off the side of their desk.’

Kat Fidler is the general manager of Sky Blue Solutions, part of leading integrated support services group Carillion, which provides recruitment and resource solutions to the UK construction and services sectors. She initiated and led the creation of the Carillion working mums network which quickly grew from being a small self-help group to a network with 200 plus members, senior sponsorship and influence on policy.

Why a ‘working mums network’ at Carillion?

The working mums network was triggered in part by my own experiences. I wanted to create a support network for others through shared experiences. This rapidly evolved into an opportunity to shine a light on some of the issues that female colleagues face, including career progression, at the point they become parents.

Having evolved from a traditionally male-dominated construction environment, Carillion’s policies at that time focused mainly on managing individual areas such as pregnancy and maternity leave rather than the broader gender agenda. When I was pregnant, I was overwhelmed with a well-intentioned attitude, mainly from male colleagues, which said ‘when you have a baby you won’t be interested in coming back’ or ‘you might come back on a part-time basis but your priorities will be elsewhere’. It painted the picture to me and others that if you are having a baby, you won’t be here, and if you are you won’t be in the running for anything else.

I took one year off on maternity leave and returned to a very supportive environment, driven by my line manager at the time. However I still found the process of becoming a working mum difficult. Putting aside the logistical and planning challenges of a family with two full-time working parents, after a year out I felt my concentration span was much shorter and my ability to get my point across was a little rusty. I realised how valuable it was to have a group that working mums can turn to when they go through pregnancy and return to work simply to talk about some of these quite personal insights and worries.  If someone had told me at the time that you have this period of transitioning and adjustment, I’d have stopped worrying about it quite as much.

Creating this peer support for other women in Carillion was the primary reason for the working mums network.

Leadership sits up and takes notice

These difficulties associated with maternity transitions had not previously been highlighted but now diversity and inclusion is firmly on senior leadership’s agenda. Importantly, it is embedded in sustainability targets in the business strategy.  Managing motherhood has been recognised as an important sub-element of our gender agenda. The working mums network was soon seen as an opportunity to get grass-root level insights into the issues faced by working mums which can inform senior-level decision making.

Therefore, there has been strong senior sponsorship for the network from the start. This was really important because sometimes there is a risk that these types of groups can be mis-understood and seen as ‘whinging forums’, if taken out of context. The activity of the network started with a comprehensive piece of research to understand the landscape of working mums in Carillion: what Carillion has to deal with; what Carillion working mums have to deal with; national statistics; and best practice from other companies.

The research evolved into a set of recommendations, broadly around flexibility, maternity pay, line management support and processes.

Working mums network influencing maternity policy

Carillion’s senior leadership team considered the recommendations and asked the network to work up proposals for revised maternity pay. As well as considering responses from our research, we benchmarked Carillion against other companies in the UK – across all industries. We considered the financial implications to the business and proposed a balanced range of options. Our senior leadership team acted swiftly to approve a positive change and Carillion now offers 12 weeks full pay and then an additional six weeks at half pay. This is miles ahead of our competitors in both construction and services sectors, many of which offer the legal minimum.

Personalising maternity time

Our research also highlighted that there was an opportunity to recognise the emotional richness of what  employees experience at maternity time. We felt that connecting with employees in a positive way would help to drive further loyalty to Carillion. The maternity process is under a full review in order to personalise some of the key touch points.

For example, the network has recently trialled sending a copy of a book, Mothers Work! to women who are due to return from maternity leave with a personal note to let them know that Carillion is keen for them to return and will support their transition back to work. The feedback has been really positive. We’ve had people posting messages on our internal social network saying how valued it made them feel. Taking the time to write the card and send the book is an inexpensive thing to do for an awful lot of value; it alleviates the worry about returning back to work as a mum and increases motivation to come back and put value into the business.

Star awards for line managers

Carillion has recognised the need for flexible and agile workforce even before the working mums research highlighted flexibility as one of the key enablers for working mums careers. As a result our flexible working policy was revamped to offer a lot of scope to recognise and make the most of our people’s talents. In the survey we did across the working mum population at Carillion we found we had pockets of excellence where line managers were being really quite creative with how they manage their teams and how much difference it made to the morale, loyalty and discretionary effort of their staff.

We wanted to shape line manager behaviour by highlighting good practice which is making a positive difference. We asked our members to nominate their managers for a Star Award. There have been some really touching stories where line managers had gone beyond the call of duty, not only to show support to their female employees but also to demonstrate openness and creativity in the application of the policy.  These managers fly the flag not just for working mums but also for a balanced approach to work  by sending a message that it’s ok to be supportive and it’s ok not to be driven by ‘bums on seats’ but by output instead.

What’s next?

The working mums network activity has only just began. The next steps are to increase the depth and breadth of what we do with our members and their line managers. Our evolution has to incorporate support for working dads and carers. The network is also represented in a Carillion-wide Diversity Group which gives working mums the opportunity to influence strategic action behind Carillion’s diversity and inclusion strategy.

 

Talent Fueller – Tracy Groves, PwC

Tracey_Groves[2]

Talent Fueller Interview with Tracy Groves, PwC.

“Talent Fueller” is our name for individuals who are working to keep, support and fuel female talent whether part of their role or ‘off the side of their desk.’

Something interesting is happening at PwC on the gender inclusion front and Tracy Groves is the catalyst behind it. Tracy is a partner in the Forensic Services Practice, based here in London, a day job that includes leading the business ethics and integrity practice for clients. In addition she is the Chair of the newly created PwC Gender Balance Network, formerly known as the Women’s Network.

 

Gender Balance Network Replaces PwC Women’s Network

I asked myself, why when the firm is moving towards a strategy of inclusiveness – so recognising and respecting value and difference on a very positive basis – are we focusing the women’s network just on women?  When I look at the fantastic development programs I have been on within PwC over the years one of my thoughts/feedback was ‘why are we not embracing men as part of this?’ Because all of us need to be educated and informed and helped to understand if we are different, why is that and why is that a positive asset?

In my day-to-day client work I was observing a real appetite for understanding how better balanced decision making is brought about through diversity of thought, experience, age and gender. Taken together with refocusing our strategy on inclusiveness, moving to the Gender Balance Network felt like a natural evolution.

Responses to the idea of a Gender Balance Network

“The vast majority of women said ‘thank goodness, at last!’ When we attempted to name ‘women only’ issues, in response to some resistance, we saw that there are very few and a forum probably isn’t the place to discuss them. If you want to talk, for example, about childcare issues – which have stereotypically been seen as in the women’s camp – there’s the Parent’s Network.

There are different balance equations in different parts of the firm/regions and there may be a greater journey to go on in some places. I think what reassured some of the nervousness was reiterating that the creation of the Gender Balance Network isn’t us saying that there’s a level playing field and that we’ve got it right. My view is that in order for us to move to a level playing field where both women and men have the opportunity to be the best we can be, we need to do that on a far more inclusive basis and not just for a minority group.

Men and women embracing the Gender balance Network

From a soft launch in January to the latest event, the numbers of participants is up. Board members have been involved in each event with curiosity growing on their part as Tracy tells us they’re now asking ‘when’s the next one? When’s it my turn?”

The most recent event welcomed 135 people to a room designed for 50 (because previous Women’s Network events have usually attracted 30-40) and that included 15 men and 10 clients. And the attraction? The title, “Ambition in the workplace.”

“We used the data from the project 28-40 report that we supported Opportunity Now to do, to explore how men and women individually responded to questions relating to ambition. It brought out a huge amount of synergy as well as some differences which we then really began to unpick and explore. People were still talking about it a week later.”

Carrying the conversation beyond events

“It’s important to realise that the role of the networks within PwC is to really enable our wider diversity and inclusion strategy. They’re there to provide a safe environment where we can debate, challenge, question what we are doing and how we are doing it.

If we are to make any impact and real change, it has to happen within the business itself, so if I think about what I am doing within my own business unit (and this is happening across the firm as well), there are ongoing discussions, round tables, and listening groups taking place which are focusing on all the different types of diversity, not just gender balance.

The more people participate, the better.

What’s next?

We have a shortlist of things that we want to talk about, a list we’ve whittled down to three or four topics as well as lunch with leader events. The topics we are going to be looking at include:

  • Power and Politics, including negotiating and influencing.
  • Self-Promotion, including confidence and communication, how do you market yourself and how do you sell yourself – what’s your brand?
  • Making Life work for you, work-life balance – having something beyond work, making life work for you as opposed to working to live. Doing this in terms of getting flexibility in all of our work, given technology, given the way that we work.

 

 

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