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Creating a family-friendly workplace

Family-friendly policies are not only good for employees, they are also good for business and the wider economy. It’s estimated that the pro-parenting policies introduced by Nordic countries over the past 50 years have boosted gross domestic product (GDP) by 10 to 20% per capita.1

Culture shift

Rosie Leverton, Head of Corporate Partnerships at Tommy’s, says,

“It takes more than just excellent policies to create a cultural shift in the workplace. But that’s what is needed to deliver meaningful support for individuals.

 “A truly family-friendly approach should begin in your recruitment and onboarding processes and seep through into everything you do. It’s about fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable talking to you about their plans to start their family and what support they need. Without feeling like they’ll be judged or penalised.

“Policies should focus on inclusion and support for all parents. Ensuring ongoing open conversations and flexibility, rather than a one size fits all approach."

Motherhood wage penalty

However, women who take the primary role in childcare may experience financial and career penalties as a result. This is sometimes known as the ‘motherhood wage penalty'.

Need for support

Research by the Fawcett Society and Totaljobs — which captured insights from 3,000 working parents with children aged four and under, 500 HR decision makers, and 1,254 working adults details an alarming lack of support:5

Five-point plan

The Fawcett Society suggests a five-point plan.5 It focuses on returning mothers, but will deliver family-friendly policies which benefit all parents:

Empower line managers

Structured transition

Bupa can provide the guides and resources to upskill line-managers to have better conversations and be able to signpost support at every stage of the parenting journey.

Resources from the Workplace Health and Wellbeing Academy

1 Unicef

2 Mitwally,Tala Husam Hani; Mohamed,Yasmin Galal Mostafa; Ossaily,Yasmine, The Business Case for Investing in Women’s Employment in Jordan : Amin Kawar and Sons (AKS), The World Bank Group.

3 Giacomo Vagni, Richard Breen, Earnings and Income Penalties for Motherhood: Estimates for British Women Using the Individual Synthetic Control Method, European Sociological Review, Volume 37, Issue 5, October 2021, Pages 834–848, DOI:10.1093/esr/jcab014

4 Institude and Faculty of Actuaries (PDF, 5.5MB), NOW:Pensions, March 2024.

5 Totaljobs, November 2023.

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