Bank of England – Winner 2022, Best Family Network
The Bank of England’s Parents+ network offers support to members in balancing their career with the pressures of home life, as well as affecting change at an organisational level to ensure parents at all stages of the journey feel valued and supported.
Role of the network
Initially established to aid the transition for parents returning to work after a baby, Parents+ has since broadened its role. The work of the network is underpinned by establishing need through feedback, supporting members to build a successful career whilst balancing family life, and influencing policy to make a fairer, more inclusive workplace. The ‘+’ signifies the ambition to be inclusive and invite parents, expectant parents, prospective parents, grandparents and anybody interested in parenting issues to join.
Support for parents and carers
The network functions as a safe space for people to share individual experience, and there are support groups around specific needs such as fertility, parents of SEN children, and baby loss. Senior members of the organisation are involved in sharing experiences, helping to normalise discussion around issues facing members. An online Fertility and Baby Loss community provides blogs and podcasts and delivers events including training opportunities for managers. Webinars and panel events raise awareness and offer support through open dialogue around issues such as Autism, mental health, and sexuality.
The network is still involved with helping parents’ transition back to work after family leave, through sessions which signpost support available, and provides an opportunity for new parents to support each other and discuss challenges. Other projects include showcasing the benefits of Shared Parental Leave and establishing a buddy system.
Collaborating with other networks on common goals, the network uses its platform to provide a powerful voice at committee meetings and strives to embed changes not only in policies but also in culture. Senior sponsors at director level help to influence change and inform the wider organisation, particularly at management level. An example of the positive impact of this representation was the Covid response where employees were given the opportunity to temporarily reduce working hours with no impact on pay, and performance ratings were halted to ensure parents and carers were not penalised.
The network has also influenced the introduction of Parental Bereavement Leave of four weeks full pay and enhanced Paternity Leave of 26 weeks. Additionally, the network has developed tools for staff and managers such as a Fertility Toolkit with support available including leave days and flexible working.