Nationwide – Finalist 2023, Best Family Network sponsored by BlckBx
Nationwide’s family network brings together employees from across the business, creating a space to share experiences and build connections, as well as be a driving force behind creating a family-friendly culture underpinned by best-practice policies.
A safe space
The Working Families Network aims to be fully inclusive, supporting parents, grandparents, people looking to adopt or foster, those struggling with fertility, and anyone with caring responsibilities. Specialist subgroups have been set up to offer support and advise those with specific needs such as single parents, special educational needs and disabilities, baby loss and fertility. There are drop-in sessions for different stages of the parenting journey from becoming a parent to university and beyond. There is a focus on sharing experiences as a means to countering isolation and forging bonds, and an emphasis on providing a safe space in which people can ask questions and seek guidance. A variety of talks, webinars and events share personal stories that tackle sensitive topics such as children ‘coming out’ and coping with change, and has received positive feedback.
The network is promoted internally through radio, webinars, newsletters and through social media as well as via the Network Ambassadors who work across different areas of the business. It proactively reaches out to employees to grow the community. The network is able to connect members from across the UK online and collaborates with other employee networks to ensure all communities are embraced. The support of the network extends to ensuring members are aware and equipped with information about flexible working options and leave policies, giving hints and tips on managing school holidays and out of the ordinary events such as school strikes. A dedicated online hub brings together resources and signposts. Parents returning from parental leave can access free sessions with a dedicated life and wellbeing coach. The work of the network is seen as raising awareness and tackling a diverse range of issues by engaging and listening to members to understand what’s important to them and what has an impact on their lives.
The network sees its role as an advocate for carers, parents and families and has been able push forward positive change, including increasing fully paid emergency dependants leave from two days a year to four weeks, increasing paid paternity leave from two to six weeks and extending maternity leave, including for mothers of premature babies, to 26 weeks. This has been achieved by lobbying for best practice and benchmarking against corporate peers to provide positive influence over organisational policies and strategies. The network also engages with senior leaders to ensure policies become embedded into the values and culture.