'Female retention and promotion a major issue for employers'
There is no disputing that gender balance and the retention of mothers is high on the agenda for City firms and other major employers, according to a survey by My Family Care.
It spoke to 100 heads of diversity last month for a report entitled What's Happening Out There?
The report says the drivers for change include Lord Davies' target for women on the board and the research that gender diversity leads to better performance.
Retaining talented key individuals is a similar (and linked) priority, it adds. This is due to specific business reasons, such as the cost of losing an experienced member of staff. That includes the immediate replacement costs and bedding in time for a new recruit as well as the loss of the huge investment of perhaps 10 years development, the relationships they have nurtured; and if they leave in favour of a more family-friendly competitor, the loss is severe and reputational impact great within close-knit industries, says the report.
On innovation in staff retention, it states: “Leading employers learn from each other and being an award-winning employer has almost become a must-have to keep up in attracting new talent with the skills and capabilities for leadership in our times. An employer brand is essential. Flexibility is wanted not only by parents and carers, but by the new generation entering the workforce, expecting a new relationship with work and workplaces.”
The report says that engaging and retaining parents is still on the agenda, even though other priorities are being shelved. However, organisations are looking for low-cost, more accessible solutions, such as an in-house mentoring programme with external guidance and development support and webinars for family networks.
On flexible working, the survey results showed the majority of respondents have opened up flexibility to all. In careers where career progression is not possible on a part-time basis, the report notes a rise in the lifecycle approach among progressive employers. It says: “Careers don’t have to be linear; they can go in phases.”
Career progression can also be aided by initiatives such as leadership programmes, mentoring and sponsoring as well as crafting profile-raising part-time roles, it says.
The report also notes that family friendly initiatives are broadening to include wider groups, including dads, carers, grandparents, single parents, adopting families, step and separated families, same sex couples and people undergoing fertility treatment and diversity is being discussed by progressive employers “as being the uniqueness we all bring, and not tied to membership of a specific grouping”, it states.
The report says the current biggest challenges facing employers are senior buy-in to family friendly working, establishing a flexible culture, developing more flexible managers and securing career progression for flexible workers.
It identifies the next wave of issues for attention as including employer brand, that is effective communication externally and internally of what employers are offering on the family friendly front, better support for carers and better support for parents.
The report also highlights a need to empower and support passionate individuals who drive networks and buddy schemes, an issue over whether flexibility should be left to individual management discretion and how a consistent policy can be shaped if this is the case and a need to overcome the perception that family (and flexibility) are career limiting.
*Workingmums.co.uk Top Employer Awards are open for nominations until July. They include the Workingmums' Champion Award which is nominated by individual employees and aims to promote the work of passionate individuals who have made a difference to the family friendly culture of their organisation, for instance, through setting up women's or parents' networks. If you know of such an individual, you can nominate them here.