Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield – Commended 2022, Best Family Network
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s ‘Working Families Together Champions’ family network operates to connect and support parents whilst also influencing positive policy change to enhance the family-friendly culture.
Character and role of the network
Working Families Network is an informal network designed to provide a space for parents, parents-to-be, grandparents and carer employees across the business to come together, find support in sharing experience, gain knowledge that can be of benefit to their circumstances, and act as a soundboard to explore more family-friendly ways of working.
Members comprise of employees from all levels and bring a range of lived experiences including child bereavement, fertility, and same sex partnerships. Employees are made aware of the network through the new starter induction, before and after parental leave, and email updates and newsletters that are shared internally.
Support for parents and carers
The network meets quarterly, chaired by HR, who also provide training on relevant policies. Regular agenda items are policy updates, upcoming training, awareness week event planning and family leave best practice. Employees are encouraged to propose initiatives and events such as Bring Your Kids to Work Day and Keeping in Touch networking events are employee-led. Members of the network can expect signposting to relevant resources and as well as peer support, and a space to share experiences.
Members can become accredited Mental Health First Aiders who can signpost themselves, employees, friends, and family for mental health support, and become to become a workplace family buddy to another employee who is a new parent or carer. Regular internal communications raise
s awareness of existing support, policies, and highlights positive employee family stories. Events are focused around awareness weeks and celebration days, for example volunteers interviewed each other on their experience of being a working father for Father’s Day and the responses were shared company-wide in a specific Fathers’ Day Q&A communication.
Members are seen as crucial contributors to developing policy, and can put forward proposals to remove, update or introduce new policies and support whilst also providing feedback on any existing. In 2021 member’s feedback resulted in improvements to Paternity Leave policy, with the time frame for taking paid paternity increasing from 56 days to a year, and the reinstatement of holiday purchase and carry over scheme.
The sharing of personal stories of miscarriage and parental bereavement led to the introduction of a Pregnancy Loss Policy and enhanced parental bereavement support. Members also played a part in shaping flexible working policy and new hybrid working model, which is now based on core hours and WFH two days per week.