How Can We Enable Caring And Career?

d&i strategies managing working parents smart and flexible working work life harmony working parents May 26, 2020

There is no denying that the impact of COVD-19 has brought many challenges to organisations, large and small. However, it has also driven new working practices and mindsets in leaders that present an incredible opportunity for organisations to accelerate their pursuit of inclusive cultures and equality at work.  

Will you be amongst the progressive organisations to capitalise on the window of an overwhelming desire for change and be an employer of choice?

Prioritising ‘caring and career’ as a human capital strategy today, which your senior leadership team actively champion and role model, is a sure way to make in-roads to meeting your targets and commitments faster.

1000s of employees across Switzerland have shared their "aha" moments - employees and leaders alike since mid April. Over 80% do not want to return to what was. The benefits of flexible working are no longer conceptual - individuals and teams have proven they are productive, engaged and results-focused if working virtually and trusted to do so. I have picked out the quotes that reflect the themes of what professionals are sharing:

  • New mindsets of leaders 💡: "As a Leader, I have surprised myself. I will admit, I was hesitant to endorse remote working even though it is policy. However, I made 2 changes: 1) I focused on results and not who was visible and 2) I watched and I saw how the team grew in connection, collaboration and ironically productivity. I don't want to lose this momentum. I can see how everyone is working better together and I want to hold on this feeling."
  • New habits ⏰: "I formed new habits. I made the most of the commute time for myself and my well being. I had moments with the family at lunchtime and got to see my children when they wanted a conversation, not as they were getting ready for bed and tired! It has made me realise that I don't have to choose between being a parent and a professional during the week. This has been my wake-up call to get a better balance before it's too late."
  • A leveller for mixed, global teams 🌎: "Witnessing the differences in the team when we were all working virtually rather than some of us in HQ in person, was unexpected. Team members who were shy speaking out in meetings became more vocal on calls. Virtual workers felt that they were finally understood by HQ as their peers also learnt the virtual world. We have made more progress to be a unified, highly performing team in the last 7 weeks than we have in 7 years!"
  • Greater connection & relationships 👫: "As a team we have got to know each other so much better on a personal, meaningful level. Seeing family members, pets, photos, everyone wearing their own style clothes.. it created a different understanding between us. We have all shared how we have also seen our leader in a new light - more humane, more empathetic - I guess himself."
  • Fear of lost opportunity to pivot ⚖️: "This has been the most timely experiment forced upon us. It is the catalyst to shift to new ways of working." "Going back to what was will feel harder now, it will suggest that we can't be trusted to continue." "If we don't change, I will look to the more progressive organisations to change roles so I can work somewhere which allows me a better quality of work life balance."

The red thread? Individuals and teams overcoming limiting beliefs about flexible working and experiencing the many personal and professional benefits that remote working brings, when managed well. 

Having to juggle professional and personal commitments during isolation, has amplified the awareness of challenges working parents and carers face - there is no pretending we don’t have a family when they have been popping up on video calls.

As teams have developed new practices to stay connected (including e-coffee mornings, karaoke nights, bring your partners/kids/pets along sessions amongst many), employees are feeling more brave and empowered to show up as themselves. As schedules have had to be agile for those with caring responsibilities, trust has been nurtured and a common understanding has been shared.

One of the most significant barriers to advancing women in the workplace is linked to the fact that the role of the carer is often associated with a mother, despite the evolution of family structures and generational differences. The coronavirus has highlighted that caring takes many forms - of course, caring for children but also self- care (mental & physical well being), caring for ageing parents, caring for sick relatives/community members, caring for pets, etc.

Many families have had to re-write the rules around sharing the load at home and many leaders have posted articles and even photos of them admitting how unequal it was at their own home. 

So, what now? Pivot on this moment of experimentation and implement a caring and career strategy that addresses policies, practices, resources and behaviours, as part of a cultural change programme.

In all the uncertainty, stress and sadness that the coronavirus has created, there is a silver lining and we can't let this gift go.

It's been my personal agenda to enable caring and career, so that professionals can choose both, without guilt, overwhelm or failure since 2010. Why? I realised how "lucky" I had been not having to choose between being a Mum and a Professional - 2 maternity leaves, stayed on Director track & leveraged the integrated flexible working policy when I needed to, without being written off in my career. 

Yes many moments of compromise, but I had a choice. Too many parents don't feel they have a choice here in Switzerland - they share the fears, challenges and biases they face with our teams weekly. The result is either visible or invisible attrition.

Thriving Talent was founded in 2015 to support organisations nurture an inclusive culture that empowers employees to thrive personally and professionally, using a holistic response to enable caring and career. We have learnt many lessons, alongside our clients and the best practices are proven to bring greater equality to the workplace. If the holistic view is taken (policies, resources, training & communications) and leaders are equipped and understand the significant role they play, it is the most effective lever for gender parity. 

As one of the co-founders of Thriving Talent, I have emptied my diary to have strategic conversations with companies, who are serious about meeting their targets and who want to pivot now. I will of course be knocking on many doors (after all it's a personal mission and motivator to having a positive social impact in Switzerland) or you can make it easier by booking a call with me.

What a brilliant moment to shape a different story for our children and grandchildren's generation.....maybe one that speaks to this beautiful 3 minute video.

Let's make this moment count.

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