Speaking up for parents

Hands holding paper cut outs of a family


Staff can be a key resource for organisations trying to improve what they offer to parents.

KPMG holds a Diversity and Inclusion Week in October and this is its second year. It includes the company’s various networking groups, such as carers and workability [for workers with disabilities] but also parenting. One of the events will be held in Birmingham on 5th October and will be run by the Parenting Network. It is open to all KPMG employees. Speakers will include Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk who will address best practice in family support.

The event will also serve as a relaunching of the Parenting Network since its new chair took over in June. Charlotte Pitts-Humphries, an assistant manager at KPMG, is keen to make a difference and is looking at a range of initiatives, such as family days and additional support for women coming back from maternity leave.

KPMG is currently piloting workshops for returners and is working with My Family Care, which provides childcare and elder care solutions, on emergency childcare and a package for carers.

Charlotte began working at KPMG five years ago when her daughter was 18 months old. She had a son last year and came back from maternity leave in January. Previously she worked for a small partner firm and had to do her training at the weekend in her own time. She says this is quite common, but when she had her daughter it became unsustainable. She joined KPMG and continued her training.

She says 75% of the KPMG parenting network is made up of mums and most have very young children. The average age of staff at KPMG is just 26. Charlotte feels more needs to be done to retain talent after staff have had children and to maintain KPMG’s position as an employer of choice for parents. “Having just come back from maternity leave I felt I could offer more to the parenting network,” she says. “A year is a long time to take out of the workplace and there needs to be good support when people are coming back and during the year.” That includes regular points of contact and good communication about any changes that might affect those returning. She just missed out on the My Family Care maternity coaching programme which came in earlier in the year, but is going to go on it later as she feels she is still trying to find her feet.

Charlotte is enthusiastic about a new mentoring scheme KPMG is piloting which involves mums and dads returning from maternity or extended paternity leave being paired up with a mentor who has worked in their area and can keep them up to date about what they need to know. All of these will be parents who have been through the process of returning to work after leave themselves. Ultimately, the plan is to align the Mentoring and MFC Coaching and Workshop pilot and mainstream this across KPMG to provide a a powerful support network to parents across all the stages of parenthood. “The mentors can help keep people up to date so it’s not a shock and be a first point of contact for concerns and dealing with practical challenges, but at the same time they won’t bombard people with information,” says Charlotte. “It’s about trying to find ways to make the process of returning to work easier.”

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