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Published: 20 Jan 2015

Barclays PLC, Winner 2014, The Citymothers Best for All Stages of Motherhood Award

Barclays’ positive approach to motherhood is part of its wider aim to be an employer of choice and are “proud of the support that we provide to our colleagues, whilst ensuring that they are able to achieve their career ambitions.” Steve Weston, Barclays. The bank’s emphasis is on confidence – that employees should not have to make career compromises because they want a good work–life fit.

Central to this are the organisation’s values of respect, integrity, service, excellence and stewardship. All employees, including those on maternity leave, were asked to attend half-day workshops to learn about the new values. Sessions were run all over the country. To ensure that maternity leavers could come, bespoke workshops were set up for them as a Keep In Touch day replacement, and on-site crèches were arranged for those who wanted to bring their babies. As one attendee remarked:

“It was incredibly valuable and perfectly pitched – I now feel very much energised about returning to work next month. Thank you also for arranging the childcare –when childcare isn’t available I generally am unable to attend this type of event. It made all the difference to me – it was a really thoughtful and unexpected touch which was very much appreciated.”

Barclays has over 4000 new parents each year. It supports them via maternity, paternity or adoption leave policies. If both parents work for Barclays, they are already allowed to combine and share their leave allowance, ahead of the new shared-parenting legislation due in 2015. All parenting policies are inclusive and apply to same-sex couples. Barclays’ policies support mothers to balance work and home priorities. Employees are offered supermarket and childcare vouchers as a pre-tax benefit. Five days’ paid emergency carer’s leave helps manage the unexpected, whether relating to childcare or elder care. Likewise, holiday can be carried over or ‘borrowed’, or extra days purchased via a flexible benefits scheme. Discounted private healthcare for colleagues and their dependants is on offer. Flexible working options range from part-time to compressed weeks, with technology and concierge services making informal flexible working simpler.

A core focus at Barclays is on increasing the representation of women in senior positions. The bank wants to demonstrate that having children doesn’t put a ceiling on careers. Maternity returner rates are closely monitored. In 2013, 95.7% of women on maternity leave returned to work, and this highlighted the need to address the practicalities of combining work and home priorities and the transition back to the office into sharper focus. Family- friendly coaching workshops for new and expectant parents support them through the transition back into work. Line managers of maternity leavers are also invited to attend the workshops to better understand their colleagues’ needs, as the bank recognises they have a crucial role to play in staff retention.

Working Families and Carers networks are another valued support mechanism linking like-minded colleagues via events and online forums. Led by senior leaders who vocally and visibly express the importance of family life, these networks have a UK membership of around 1,500, which demonstrates how appreciated they are. Barclays has abroad range of employee networks, with a total UK membership of around 7,500, covering each area of diversity and delivering inclusive support for every aspect of a mother’s identity and at each stage of her career journey. Networks have researched a variety of subjects such as flexible working influencers, career progression patterns and maternity experiences, helping the bank to continually evolve and improve policy and practice.

Barclays’ Women’s Initiatives Networks (WiN) are highly active, with chapters in each business and across countries. With female career progression a significant focus, many mothers at different stages of their careers join WiN to enable them to fulfil their potential. This commitment to enabling careers is further demonstrated by signature events hosted on International Women’s Day, by male and female senior leaders, many parents themselves, to reinforce the message that motherhood can combine successfully with career fulfilment.