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Tracy Godding is Head of User experience design [UX] and has been working for the Brighton-based technology firm Madgex for around five years, having freelanced before that.
The company recently won the Workingmums.co.uk Top Employer Award for larger SMEs for its work on female career progression, support for dads and a strong emphasis on flexible working and work life balance across the board.
After about a year of working at Madgex Tracy and her partner adopted their son and received a lot of support from HR. “There was lots of legal stuff and it wasn’t straightforward as I shared adoption leave with my partner,” she says. “But our HR director Hanna Smith spent a lot of time looking into it. I just felt it was viewed in a positive way and was accepted from the beginning.”
Tracy took the first four months off and her partner Jane took the next six months. Their son was three when he was adopted and Tracy admits that it was hard initially to get him to feel at home in his new family. However, she felt she could be open about those difficulties at work. “In fact, coming into work was a rest as I could focus my mind on other things,” she says. “That meant I could feel stronger when I went back home.”
She says the fact that Madgex has a very flexible culture mean that it was much easier to go back to work after adoption leave. “Madgex is very family-oriented and has a very good work life balance for everyone,” she says.
She went down to four days a week and worked that pattern for four years, only recently going back to full-time hours. Her partner works shifts and because Madgex is so flexible Tracy was able to work around these.
When she did go back to full-time hours, she sat down with Hanna to work out how she could do it and be able to do school pick-ups two days a week. “I was a bit reticent as I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it,” says Tracy. In order to do the pick-ups she starts early two days a week and then works later on the other days. “Quite a few people come in early and leave early here. Each person has to assess how their working pattern will affect their work, but the arrangement I have works well for me and for work,” she says.
She adds that there is a culture of trust at Madgex, that employees are not going to abuse flexible working and will manage it well themselves.
Tracy is part of a tongue in cheek regional group called Ladies That UX which holds events and gets women coders to act as mentors. They have a mums division and chat a lot. Tracy, who has also been involved in Women in IT events, says she recommends Madgex to them. “They see it as a beacon and think I am so lucky to work here,” she says.
“The people at the top all have families so they have total understanding of how that affects your daily work and how you need that flexibility,” she adds.
She also praises the HR team. “They really listen and are open to making changes as well as careful not to make it look like they are giving parents special treatment,” she says.
She adds that they are constantly engaging with staff. There is an employee engagement group called the Ha ha group which meets monthly and includes representatives from every team. It discusses social issues and how the company is run and feeds back to HR. Issues discussed include how to make the workplace healthier. As part of that culture every Friday has a theme, such as salad days or a focus on food from a particular region. Employees are given fruit twice a week. All of this came out of the Ha ha group.
“It’s about making sure people are happy at work with the idea being that if people are happy and trusted they will do a better job,” says Tracy.
*All the winners of the Workingmums.co.uk Top Employer Awards are featured in its free Best Practice Report which aims to share what the best employers are doing and to inspire others.