The Unspoken Truths of Gender Inclusion: The Parental Leave Gap
Why is maternity leave still such an uncomfortable subject?
Committed organisations are rolling out enhanced parental leave, phased returns, subsidised childcare, flexible working, networks, mentoring schemes, rooms set up for breastfeeding employees.
Is it enough?
The financial sector was one of the first to recognise the economic advantages of gender diversity. Yet with less than a fifth of senior executive posts in the UK’s financial services sector currently filled by women, it begs the question; why so long?
Outside of unconscious bias, slow cultural change and attracting women into the sector as graduates, one of the most commonly cited reasons is senior talent shortage with a nod in the direction of maternity leave and family commitments.
If we are to even come close to the 50/50 by 2020 target that a quarter of companies signed in the Women in Finance Charter have committed to, what else do we need to look at?
Our panelists will give some insights from their own experiences developing initiatives and policies that support women coming back from parental leave.
Some of the topics that the panel will address include:
- How is maternity leave now viewed by women, and by organisations?
- What do the stats say about career progression following return from maternity leave?
- How are businesses ensuring the messages set by policy filter through the culture?
- Where are the gaps in the conversation and how do we fill them?
- What does it take to have it all?
Lynn White, Maternity Coach, Bundle Maternity
Founder of new maternity leave consultancy, Bundle, Lynn White has committed the last two years of her professional life researching the link between the motherhood transition, ambition and gender diversity.
What started as a project to identify better ways to prepare and support professional women in the transition quickly attracted Scottish Enterprise support and a place in the RBS Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme. Two years on from the decision to formalise her findings, the Bundle approach is already beginning to transform the way that organisations think about maternity leave.
Hazel Little, Women Returners Scotland
Hazel worked in HR for over 15 years and following her second maternity leave, left her role as HR Director in 2013. After an extended career break, she followed her passion and re-trained as a career and executive coach with a focus on supporting individuals back into work. Hazel leads Women Returners in Scotland - consulting with organisations to create routes back to work for returners , developing and managing returner programmes, and coaching individuals to accelerate and support their return-to-work transition.
Kathryn O’ Sullivan, Head of Group Employment Policy and Employee Relationships, Standard Life Aberdeen
Kathryn has worked in a number of senior HR roles at Standard Life Aberdeen and before this in other leading Financial Services organisations. Since specialising in employee relations in 2010, Kathryn has supported a number of strategic business projects across the business including major business transformation and change programmes, mergers and acquisitions. Throughout this period she has helped create and reinforce an inclusive employee proposition with the introduction of progressive employment policies, particularly in support of modern working families. Following the merger of Aberdeen Asset Management plc and Standard Life plc in 2017, she developed and implemented an employee relations strategy to help enable the successful merger of the two businesses. She is now working on a major harmonisation of terms and conditions project in the UK and, as part of this, will lead a further review of working polices to make sure they are best in class and positive enablers of SLA’s inclusion strategy, which sets out the organisation SLA wants to be over the next 3 to 5 years.
Sharon Forder, Inclusion Manager, RBS
Sharon Forder has been with RBS since April 2007 and during that time has worked in a variety of roles. Sharon is currently an Inclusion manager working on the RBS Bank Wide Inclusion strategy including as part of her role identifying opportunities to continue to improve the family/carer support provided to colleagues as part of an inclusive culture. Sharon has previously chaired the RBS Women’s Network, the banks employee led network whose aim is to support the attraction, retention and development of female talent within the bank. Outside of work Sharon was previously Chief Operating Officer for Women and Banking and Finance.