Becoming a Solicitor with Cognitive Law changed Karen Blakesley's life for the better. Here she shares her reflections on two years as a Consultant Solicitor with this thoroughly modern law firm that is built on 100% flexibility. Today is my 2nd anniversary as a Consultant Solicitor! And I couldn’t be happier. Working in this way has allowed me to finally crack the work/life balance conundrum. Working for a firm in Kent for 14 years, I quickly progressed to partnership. I thrived in a busy commercial litigation department but when I started a family, things became difficult. The commute, the demands of the job, the changes in the legal sector, all meant that work took up so much of my time there was very little left for my family. There are challenges to working in this way as it differs so much from the partnership model. However you quickly become accustomed to having complete control over everything you do – and when you do it. And knowing that the more you work, the more you will earn is satisfyingly refreshing. I simply can’t ever see myself going back to the traditional legal firm model. Cognitive are friendly and supportive, with excellent back office support. Whilst you don’t have a secretary, they will help with pretty much any request, deal with all billing and credit control and proactively help with marketing the firm and you personally. As a mother of two, it has given me the freedom to be a solicitor and still have the time and energy to be a good parent and spend quality time with my children. In my first year, my youngest was not yet at school, so I broke myself into this new way of working gently. By the end of my second year, I have more than doubled my fee income and am now looking for more new and exciting ways to develop my practice. I set my own hours – and can actually turn down work if I don’t have time for it. This was unheard of in my old practice! I have even found time to take up running and ensure that my self-development is as important as my work and family life. All of this adds up to a very contented solicitor. That’s not something you hear all that often! ------- Reading Karen's piece, the positives are joining Cognitive Law will no doubt be very apparent – complete flexibility, being able to choose where you work, how many hours you would like to work, and the freedom to work with whom you like. Increased family time, or the freedom to pursue leisure interests, becomes achievable within the working day. However, Cognitive Law know the conversations inevitably raise questions about the perceived drawbacks of becoming a consultant solicitor. In these FAQs they have tried to address some of these frequently asked questions honestly. Where will my clients come from? Clients are notoriously loyal to their solicitor. If you are a good solicitor with a strong following, clients will often move with you. I would hasten to add however, that you must adhere to any restrictive covenants in your previous contract of employment. Nevertheless relying on an existing client base may not be enough. Tuning into your entrepreneurial flair will be required to build on your networks and relationships; as will marketing (more on that later). But if you are ready to pursue a career as a consultant, your ambition and drive will instinctively be geared towards getting out there and networking. How will I make money? Join on our industry leading fee sharing model and earn up to 70% on all received fees. What sort of support will I get? We arrange professional indemnity insurance, handle compliance management and can facilitate any training requirements. Our back office support will provide you with everything you need to get going. Full training is provided to get to grips with our very easy to use case management system. We look after your invoicing and credit control, and we pay our consultants weekly on a fees received basis. We have regular 1 to 1’s with all consultants, and quarterly consultants meetings. There is always someone at the end of the phone to talk to, discuss any concerns with, and share ideas of best practice. We encourage our consultants to support each other with cross referrals, which not only earns them a referral fee, it allows them to offer a broader range of services outside their area of expertise. What about marketing? Our marketing team is set up to help our consultant solicitors hit the ground running. We offer full marketing and business development support from the outset, and throughout your consultancy career with Cognitive Law. Our marketing support includes but is not limited to the following: Business cards and other marketing literature Website profiles, dedicated area of services you offer and testimonials Social media training, including LinkedIn profiles and building networks Article writing and blog support Campaign creation and implementation for your area of law Networking and event schedules and suggestions Promotion of your specialism through our social media networks Client satisfaction questionnaires Award entry support What do I need to start? “Fail to plan….” – you know the rest! Along with your entrepreneurial flair, a business plan will be essential. A detailed plan (that you stick to!) and the dedication to build your network is the key to success. The luxury of being a consultant is that you get to do it all your way. You can pursue the clients you’d actually like to work with, in a way you are comfortable with, and in your own time. And to top it off, you get a bigger slice of the reward to take home! If taking the plunge into consultancy is for you then take a look at the great opportunities currently available with Cognitive Law.
Changing perceptions, increasing diversity and appealing to women are top of the agenda for international sports-betting and gaming operator Paddy Power Betfair. You don’t need to be a sports-mad gambling enthusiast to work at international betting operator Paddy Power Betfair but this incorrect perception has hindered the company’s recruitment of women. That’s set to change, with the business launching campaigns to dispel myths about its culture and promote its openness to flexibility. The move includes the publication of a series of adverts and videos featuring members of the team and their passions – from a magician to white collar boxers and singers. The “I am Paddy Power Betfair” series has already featured online and in newspapers and magazines in London, Dublin, Malta, Romania and Portugal. “Our goal is to improve gender balance in the company and one of the barriers we face is attracting more women to apply for our open roles” says Talent Director Charlotte Steel. It is early days, but the campaign is already having an impact on the numbers of women applying. Currently, 30% of the company’s workforce is female. “Around 30% of our applications come from women and around 30% of our hires are women. The data suggests increasing the number of applications will improve our chances of hiring more women,” says Steel. “It’s not essential for candidates to have a background in the industry. Like many businesses, our strategy is to create growth, and to grow you need to differentiate, and to differentiate you need to innovate and to innovate you need diversity in all forms.” Paddy Power Betfair is a FTSE 100 company and employees receive the high-end benefits associated with that status – including share schemes and bonus opportunities. However, Steel says the business has the culture similar to a start-up: fast-paced and ever-changing, where those keen to innovate can thrive. “Our junior members of staff have day to day exposure to senior leaders because of the relatively flat structure and non-hierarchical culture of the organisation. If you work hard, are smart, have good ideas and can prove yourself there are opportunities for you,” she says. Flexibility is a key element of the push to recruit more women and the business launched its ‘Flex Appeal’ campaign last year to make sure staff are aware of the options available. This formalised already-high levels of informal flexibility that existed in the company. The business launched a menu of flexible working options, with home working and flexi-time available in all roles and other options such as part-time and job sharing available for some positions. “Our aspiration is for flexibility to be a feature of how we work, embedded in our culture as the norm,” says Steel. Flexibility is not seen as an accommodation only for mothers. “We believe everyone can benefit from a bit of flexibility in their life. You might want to start at 9.30am because you have a gym class before work, or leave the office at 5pm for football practice,” she says. “One colleague works three days and the rest of the week attends university to study counselling and psychotherapy. There is flexibility for everyone.” On top of this, the firm has reviewed policies to ensure they are family-friendly, challenged recruiters to provide balanced shortlists and partnered with organisations such as Girls in Tech and the Makers Academy to help train women and access pools of talent. “Becoming a new mum has meant my priorities in life have changed. But that doesn’t mean my career ambitions are any less,” says Head of Brand Planning Emer McCarthy. “I love what I do and having children has given me a new appreciation and a new drive for my job. Flexible working hours allow me to achieve a work-life balance, whilst keeping my career on track.” Paddy Power Betfair has a range of roles available across finance, HR, technology, marketing, commercial and products in both London and Dublin. Experience of the industry is not essential, with behaviour and values central to the recruitment process. Steel says a ‘can do’ attitude; an appetite for a challenge; a smart, inquisitive nature; and a collaborative approach are most important. “We’re looking for people who have ideas and are passionate about making things better but have a low ego and work well in a team,” she says. “Staff engagement in our business is high on a number of dimensions, and particularly high around peer to peer relationships – people like each other, it’s a friendly place and there are high levels of trust which is something we’re proud of.” Successful candidates into senior roles can expect development opportunities, with annual feedback accompanied by 1:1 coaching sessions with external coaches. The firm offers leadership and management training programmes and high-potential women are sponsored by senior leaders in a bid to accelerate their progress in the company. With roles currently available in London and Dublin, it’s time to take a gamble and apply.
On a career break and want to get back to work, but don’t know where to start? All too frequently we hear from mothers on a career break describing that their route back to work isn’t as plain sailing as they hoped it would be when you’ve got a gap on your CV. Perhaps you can relate to these common career-break concerns and the challenges of re-entering the workplace after leaving an established career: Feeling judged for taking time out to focus on family A loss of confidence or feeling ‘out of practice’ and unsure of yourself Convinced that there are younger, more ambitious women out there who are better poised to do the job Feeling out of touch and behind on the latest technology and market trends Potential employers will dismiss you when applying for roles because of long gaps on your CV Feeling it’s unlikely you’ll return to the same level of seniority or pay as before your break The good news is that gender diversity is still a top priority across the UK. Business leaders are recognising that not everyone has a traditional career path and are therefore seeking out return-to-work programmes as a compelling and effective way to recapture this ‘lost’ talent in the workforce. WHERE DID THE ‘RETURNSHIP’ START? A little over a decade ago, the first return to work programme was introduced by Goldman Sachs in the U.S. who trademarked the term “Returnship”. Today there are more than 160 diverse companies across the globe investing in return-to-work programmes. In 2018, the UK market saw just short of 50 programmes launched or repeated. WHAT EXACTLY IS A RETURN TO WORK PROGRAMME? Each company structures their programme slightly differently and they all have varying names such as KPMG’s Return to Tax & Pensions programme or The Reignite Academy for lawyers. You can expect the following: A higher-level internship for experienced individuals (men and women) who have taken voluntary, extended time out from their careers and are now interested in re-igniting their field of expertise or professional career back in the workplace The duration is variable but many run over a 3-6 month period Typically, they are fixed-term contracts, offering remuneration commensurate with experience They aim to provide support, training and mentorship, helping individuals reacquaint themselves with the culture and pace of the present work environment and improve skills that may have become a bit rusty They don’t guarantee long-term employment, rather offering the possibility of a permanent role at the end of the programme. Success rate is high (between 50 -100 % are offered permanent employment) after enrolling on a programme and many companies offer some level of flexibility, recognising the need to continue to fulfil your family commitments HOW DO YOU QUALIFY? Each company will set up specific criteria for applicants but there are a few generally accepted requirements that apply to most of the current UK returnship programmes: A career break of at least 2 years, although recently some do now allow you to apply if you are currently working but not making the best use of your skills and experience A specific level of experience, obviously with the understanding that you may be a bit rusty and oftentimes also a minimum educational or professional qualification IT’S A WIN-WIN SITUATION Returnships offer a practical solution to help companies stay competitive by attracting, retaining and supporting a group of highly-qualified, experienced and motivated professionals. Return on investment is extremely high – companies broaden female representation at multiple levels, reinforce their commitments to diversity and flexibility and ultimately it leads to improved overall business results. As a mother, you benefit from improving your skills and capabilities that may have been languishing at home for a few years. Your gaps in technology advancements or knowledge base will be brought up to speed in a supportive environment. Importantly, your confidence will be boosted with dedicated coaching, training sessions and mentoring – everything you need to re-acclimatise to the current working environment. WHERE TO NEXT? Momentum is building, but there are still plenty of opportunities for more businesses to get on board. Forward-thinking companies know that the calibre of mothers returning to work is high, their work ethic and loyalty unwavering. That’s why 2to3days has partnered with Inclusivity Partners to better understand how companies can set more of these programmes up to for success and attract the best candidates (yes, that’s you!). To help us achieve this, we’d love you to tell us what you think about return-to-work programmes by completing this short survey. Together, we’ll help to remove the fear of taking time out for family and give you the confidence that pausing on your working commitments is not an insurmountable obstacle. The more returnships we can support, the more you can feel encouraged to take that career break, knowing your skills and experience will be highly valued by potential employers when you are ready to return.
The magic of Christmas lies in believing, and so it is true of your career. It starts with you believing in YOU – we certainly do! So before I throw the children, dog, cat, wellies and parcels in the car and head off out of London for some much needed festive flop time, I wanted to drop you a note and wish you and your families a very Happy Christmas. A fierce reputation is delivering great jobs You’ve got to believe in the power of what we are achieving – the 2to3days Hood is rapidly gaining a fierce reputation for the calibre of our candidates – that’s you! As a result, our mothers are now working in a whole variety of great roles from Scotland down to Chichester. We’ve placed mothers onto returnship programmes with Shell, EY, and Virgin Money. We’ve watched Emilie Crick reignite her career by first becoming Finance Manager for Lucy’s Dressings before earlier in the summer becoming the FD for an international coffee company, Volcano Coffee; both roles were through 2to3days. And only a few days ago, a mother dropped us a note to let us know that she is now the Business Manager at Vorto. Unleashing the power of the Hood A 2018 highlight for our team was our first Roadshow, in partnership with innocent. This was a major step towards unleashing the power of the 2to3days Hood. It was truly wonderful to meet so many of you, and you will be pleased to know that we plan on doing a lot more in 2019. We also have a whole host of companies already committed to advertising in January (I'm dying to tell you who, but I can’t!). One hint: we are coming to Dublin and the bells of Westminster are chiming! Growing the team So that we can deliver everything we have planned we are growing our own team - all through the 2to3days Hood. Beverley Brown has joined as our COO, and Holly Davis has joined as our Finance Manager working remotely working for us from Cheshire. And if you are an ex-recruiter and are brilliant at sales then apply for our role as a Business Development Manager. Thank you! From the bottom of my heart, thank you for making 2018 a brilliant year, 2to3days is far bigger than me or the 2to3days team – it’s about us – it’s about the 2to3days movement – it’s about us all coming together, united by a shared purpose and passion and that’s why more and more progressive companies are advertising on our site. This is our time girls, the way of working is changing and you need to be ready to seize your moment. Before I sign off and hit the road I have just one ask – please ensure your registration form on our site is complete and that your CV is uploaded. The power of opportunity that this will unleash is massive and as a result, your dream role will appear in 2019 making all this year’s Christmas dreams come true! Also if you haven’t already please complete our survey on Returnships as companies are queueing up to know what you want. Have a wonderful Christmas, take some time out for you and bottle those precious moments. Here’s to a great 2019 filled with health, laughter and fantastic flexible roles! Best wishes
In October, the power of the Hood cranked up a gear when 2to3days held our first roadshow in partnership with innocent drinks. All we can say is WOW! The inspiration, connections and opportunities in the room were palpable. Over 100 seriously talented and engaged mothers attended the sold-out event, hosted in the quirky and contemporary grassy knolled, picnic-styled canteen at innocent’s Fruit Towers in London. Our mission was to harness the power and the energy that exists between progressive companies, like innocent and highly capable and ambitious mothers of the 2to3days Hood. The expertise and experience networking under one roof demonstrated that as a collective we can accelerate the pace of change. We can be the catalyst that disrupts the traditional recruitment model and revolutionises the workplace – for the benefit of both business and mothers. “2to3days is bigger than me and it’s bigger than my team. 2to3days is about “US” - progressive leaders and highly capable mothers all working together to close the void between the business world and motherhood.” Juliet Turnbull, CEO & Founder: 2to3days After sipping on innocent smoothies and enjoying conversations with other like-minded mothers, 2to3days team members and innocent employees, there was also a great line-up of inspiring speakers. Douglas Lamont, innocent CEO, spoke about how innocent is trailblazing the way in their belief that work is not where we go but what we do. Acknowledging that there is still work to be done, Douglas believes that there are three key enablers to effective flexible working: - Decent technology at our fingertips - A project-based mindset where part-time workers are becoming a sought-after resource and - A change in social attitudes, therefore the way we work is clearly evolving. “At innocent, we want to be at the forefront - attracting great people and creating a flexible, inclusive working environment. That’s what I believe in - great people working flexibly….and unless we get to this, the world is going to go backwards.” 2to3days founder and CEO, Juliet Turnbull shared her passion for why every mother has the right to have both – time to raise your children AND reach your full potential at work. “The solution to this social and economic problem lies in our hands – collectively if we all do our bit towards this common goal, we’ll increase the pace of change to close the void.” Victoria McLean, CEO of City CV, also known as the CV Queen, shared that getting the job you want starts with a great CV. It’s critical to reframe your CV as a marketing document – not just a list of everything you’ve done. Victoria challenges mothers to think of themselves as a branded product and not to underestimate the role that AI (artificial intelligence) and search optimisation play in getting you through the first hurdle when applying for a job. “Your future employer – the hirer, they are a buyer looking for the best product in the market.” 2to3days is not just a business, we are a movement actively supporting mothers and collectively pursuing change in the workplace for the better of the economy and society. Our first roadshow was an overwhelming success and we loved meeting members of the Hood in person. Our ambition is to support and inspire mothers with similar events in the near future so that we can empower you to be the woman you really want to be by working with other progressive companies, like innocent, to give you access to the jobs you really want. We all have a part to play in closing the void between the business world and motherhood. The bigger our community, the more power we have, the faster we can accelerate change. So, if you share in our mission, help us make a difference today by doing the following: Register on the site – as a mother or a company Tell your friends to register, let them in on the great things we are doing Refer a company and guess what you’ll make yourself a quick £100 the first time they place an advert And when you spot that dream job you’ve always wanted – don’t delay, apply! Together we are stronger and more powerful as we champion mothers’ career progression through flexible working. BE the Power of the Hood now!
We are thrilled to welcome Cognitive Law to the 2to3days Hood. This contemporary law firm, built on traditional foundations, empowers its team to manage their work-life integration with its consultants working on a virtual and flexible basis. Lucy Tarrant, founding partner and Managing Director, explains how they're making change happen in the legal sector. A few years ago I thought I was about the least entrepreneurial solicitor on the planet. I’m naturally quite risk averse, and I had achieved partner status in private practice. What more could I want from my career? I wasn’t unhappy, but I wasn’t happy either. Don’t get me wrong, my firm was great, and I genuinely enjoyed being a solicitor (and still do). But as a lone parent, working full time, my going to the office every day was becoming a bit of a slog. Working part-time wasn’t a financially viable option for me. However, I still wanted to take my daughter to school, go to every assembly and have her friends round for tea. I wanted some more time for me, perhaps to enjoy that costly gym membership or be able to go for a run in the daylight. In short, I wanted to cut myself some slack, without compromising my career. And so it was that Cognitive Law was born in September 2014, with the aspiration to allow solicitors to be their own boss, to manage their own time, their clients, and their workload. Flexible working is a given Cognitive has been a consultancy based law firm from the outset. Flexible working is not just an option here, it is a given. All our solicitors work completely flexibly and are located nationwide. The firm’s ethos encompasses and promotes flexible working across the entire company. Every solicitor works where, when and how they like. They set their own targets and work as much or as little as they choose. There are no set hours or days that solicitors are required to work. We operate a fee share model which means solicitors are paid up to 70% on their received fees. This means solicitors simply choose how much work they take on in a period of time, and they do that work completely flexibly around their lifestyle. We appreciate that sometimes it’s not a question of work/life balance but work/life management. There are times when we all need to spend more time in a particular area of our lives, and our business structure allows the scales to tip in whichever favour it needs to. We afford all our consultants the flexibility to plan when and where they are, managing their client work as only they know how. We have technology and systems in place which allow our solicitors to access their work on a central management system from any location. Therefore they can not only work the hours they want but in the location they like, whether that be one of our office bases or remotely from home, or anywhere in between. Full support provided We provide full back office support so each solicitor works in a way that suits their lifestyle whilst having the support of a larger team. All our consultant solicitors are provided with: Online case management system with installation and training provided AML compliance Professional Indemnity Insurance Invoicing & credit control Guidance through the office set-up process, whether at home or in office space Ongoing support, including a number to call for instant advice and help A designated phone number Business cards A telephone answering service to field calls when consultants are on holiday or in meetings Cognitive branded stationery and letterhead Regular social events with other Cognitive solicitors Marketing & business development guidance and planning Making a genuine difference The impact our flexible working ethos has had on our solicitors’ lives has been phenomenal, and quite literally life-changing. Since starting in 2014 with 1 consultant we have grown to 9 consultants, 1 legal manager, 1 Marketing Manager and an Operations Executive. We now offer a range of legal services including commercial, commercial property, dispute resolution, debt recovery, insolvency and employment, as well as family law, contentious probate and later life/wealth management legal advice. We are in regular contact with all our solicitors with daily emails and telephone calls, quarterly meetings, and visits to each solicitor’s base, ensuring a supportive team culture has also been established across the network. I recently asked some of our current consultants how they felt about taking the leap into a consultancy role and these are the answered I received: “The pros were obvious, control over my work, a genuine work-life balance, flexibility and importantly being able to implement my own business plan without it having to fit into a grander design that somebody else was trying to develop.” Darren Stone, Insolvency Solicitor “Cognitive Law has given me the freedom and ability to prioritise my family at a time I needed. The ability to plan my work around my family has been invaluable.” Annabel Cole, Employment Solicitor “Being a consultant changed my life – for the better. Working in this way has allowed me to finally crack the work/life balance conundrum. Working for a firm in Kent for 14 years, I quickly progressed to partnership. I thrived in a busy commercial litigation department but when I started a family, things became difficult and there was very little time left for my family. You quickly become accustomed to having complete control over everything you do – and when you do it. And knowing that the more you work, the more you will earn is satisfyingly refreshing. I simply can’t ever see myself going back to the traditional legal firm model. Cognitive are friendly and supportive, with excellent back office support. Whilst you don’t have a secretary, they will help with pretty much any request, deal with all billing and credit control and proactively help with marketing the firm and you personally. As a mother of 2 it has given me the freedom to be a solicitor and still have the time and energy to be a good parent and spend quality time with my children. In my first year my youngest was not yet at school, so I broke myself into this new way of working gently. By the end of my second year I have more than doubled my fee income and am now looking for more new and exciting ways to develop my practice. I set my own hours – and can actually turn down work if I don’t have time for it. This was unheard of in my old practice! I have even found time to take up running and ensure that my self development is as important as my work and family life.” Karen Blakesley, Commercial Solicitor APPLY NOW for one of the great Consultant Solicitor opportunities on offer and for more info feel free to call or email me for an informal chat on 0333 400 4499 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Our philosophy at 2to3days is bigger than who we are and what we do – we’re a social and economic movement comprising progressive leaders and highly capable mothers who together want to close the void between the business world and motherhood by championing mothers’ career progression through flexible working. We’re making great progress to achieve this. Unearthing fresh ways to mobilise the “Power of the Hood”, our always growing community of dynamic mothers and businesses, allows us to identify champions of our cause – women and men who are at the forefront of demonstrating their commitment to driving diversity in the workplace. One such progressive leader within our hood is Jo Geraghty, whose purpose in life is, “To make the workplace a better place to be, as well as making businesses work better.” We’re extremely proud to officially welcome Jo to the 2to3days hood as our first ever ambassador – her talent, vision and innovative approach is at the cutting edge of how working practices and employee engagement will change in the future, making Jo a perfect champion to help drive diversity in the workplace and flexibility for working mothers. <> A little bit about Jo... Co-founder of boutique agency Culture Consultancy and formerly head of HR for Goldman Sachs France and Switzerland, Jo brings 18 years’ experience in change management for various organisations across the globe. Her reputation precedes her - an expert in building high performance and inclusive cultures. Jo specialises in working with senior leadership teams to design and deliver large-scale projects in a wide variety of organisations. She has a proven ability to assess and design cultures, drive people engagement and identify the development needs of individuals and businesses. Jo is also a co-author of “Building a Culture of Innovation” which is an Amazon bestseller and she regularly speaks on topics such as, Next Generation Leadership, Cultures of Diversity, Innovation Culture and Scaling Culture for Growth. “To say I was delighted to become a 2to3days brand ambassador, is an understatement! One thing is clear, there is so much work to do in this space and 2to3days are making great strides forward. I’m proud to be part of a solution that allows both capable and highly skilled mothers to find meaningful work in a flexible environment as well as allowing companies to harness the talent that has previously languished at home.” Why Jo believes working mothers make a positive difference Diverse workforces (and that means diversity of everything – ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, thought) make workplaces fairer, more innovative and more pleasant. Alongside this mission, I’m determined to see British businesses succeed through more efficient productivity. When these two visions come together, companies and people thrive. Currently, the UK has comparatively low productivity despite people spending longer than ever working, resulting in increasing job dissatisfaction and mental health issues among employees. With a multi-generational workforce gaining traction, attitudes need to change and the mechanism to do this requires diversity. Tapping into the many thousands of mothers who want to return to work but are challenged to is the key to business success and development now and in the future. This mother-talent can make a real difference to the UK’s economy – educated, experienced, qualified and ambitious. Utilising this group should be part of every business strategy. Returnship programmes need to be well-thought through Lots of companies focus on returnship programmes but not enough time is given to considering how the programme impacts on women’s daily lives, for example Inadequately training managers to support working mothers Adapting to alternative ways of working – scheduling meetings at inconvenient times, such as early breakfasts or in the bar after work This is why 2to3days is such a key platform for employers who recognise that flexibility is crucial to attracting, nurturing and retaining dedicated, talented employees throughout their career. It connects the right talent to the right companies. Everyone thrives in a flexible environment Both men and women are more likely to leave a company that is not flexible, so by offering flexible working you can retain the most highly educated and experienced talent. It’s proven that organisations with the most gender diversity outperform those with the least – employees working in these inclusive cultures will enjoy higher satisfaction levels, increased engagement and therefore they will increase overall performance and productivity. With a gender-diverse workforce, a company can also expand its customer base and offer better services. But ultimately for employers, by embracing diversity and flexible working, they open themselves up to a bigger talent pool. If a company can get its head around a culture of flexible working and shed the deep-rooted, misguided fear that it will impact results, then it can access some of the best women in business. “In the future, there won't be flexible work, there will just be work.” Flexible arrangements are proven to help reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and enhance employee engagement and loyalty. By offering flexible working you can greatly increase the pool of applicants for vacant roles, while helping to retain the experienced and skilled staff already in a company. The long-term benefits are culture-changing. If this happens at a junior and manager level, we also have more chance of women and mothers ending up on boards. Now that really is a goal that everyone should get behind. Thanks for having me 2to3days!
When Nationwide invited women interested in digital careers to an event to mark Ada Lovelace day earlier this month, it was a call to action for those looking for flexibility and career advancement in the technology and digital space. However, this is only one part of the mutual’s push to encourage flexibility across the business. Nationwide’s decision to hold an event on Ada Lovelace day followed its announcement that it will invest £4bn in digital, data and technology, creating around 1,000 roles in the next few years. The building society wants to ensure a good proportion of those are taken by women. “We want to target those returning to work, whether that’s from maternity leave or a longer period of time taken for family or other reasons, as well as those thinking of switching to a career in technology,” says chief product owner for digital, Rachel Robinson. “We’ve committed to creating up to 1,000 new roles in technology, digital and data over the next two to five years. I would like it if a significant number of those roles went to women because we know women are under-represented in technology in the UK.” At the event, over 120 attendees listened to a morning of inspirational speeches from female speakers such as computer scientist Dr Sue Black OBE. This was followed by an afternoon of practical workshops on building an online profile, work life balance and interviewing skills. Yet this emphasis on encouraging women into flexible technology opportunities is only one strand of the organisation’s push to demonstrate its openness to flexible working. The impetus to do so comes from the top. Nationwide CEO Joe Garner says the mutual is proud that most women in the organisation return to work after maternity leave, many in flexible roles. He’s also encouraging new fathers to use flexibility for their family needs. “I am keen we are pushing the boundaries in this area, and I will actively try to help accommodate more flexible arrangements,” says Garner. “Often, I find that there is no ‘policy’ in the way…people just need to ask!” Nationwide is clear that diversity is good for the business – the mutual wants its workforce to reflect the society it serves. “Technology is changing the world and it’s part of making sure our members have a safe, secure place to save their money, finance their homes and manage their day to day finances. We need to keep up with changing expectations,” says Robinson. While part of the demand for talent will be fed by new graduates and the pipeline, the building society also wants to make opportunities available to women who have been out of the workplace for a period of time – whether that is three months or ten years. The issue is close to Robinson’s heart. She recently returned to work after having her son and says this has made her acutely aware of the challenges women face practically and emotionally when thinking about managing home and work. “I’m in a senior executive role and work a four-day week that’s super flexible because that’s what works for me and my family,” she says. “I’m not the only person in that situation – I work with lots of women and men doing three-day weeks in senior and junior roles, across different parts of the business. We’re interested in the individual, their experience and expertise first.” She is determined to ensure women know these opportunities exist. “Nationwide can help people manage their work-life balance and career ambitions. Many women would be really interested in opportunities at Nationwide but aren’t applying as they don’t see us as a technology employer or a flexible working employer.” Roles will be available at all levels of seniority and experience. While some will be in computer programming and engineering, they will also need project managers, finance professionals, risk managers, digital designers and researchers. There are huge numbers of different representations of flexible working across Nationwide – so from marketing to risk to technology the clear message for applicants is that they don’t need to be afraid to have that conversation. There are a variety of ways to work flexibly, from part-time to homeworking to job shares or shorter hours for frontline staff. For example, employer brand managers Sarah and Laura joined Nationwide’s People and Culture department in December 2017 as a job share, covering a full-time role between them. Before Nationwide, they had known each other for 20 years after meeting through work and have been job sharing for the past seven. “There’s always the opportunity to talk it through and have the conversation about how we can make things work,” says Robinson. “If people are interested in a role at Nationwide and have the right mix of skills and experience and attitude I would really encourage them to apply or chat to someone in the organisation – get in touch with our HR team.” While there are already several job opportunities live, Robinson says that the flow will increase in the next 18 months, making now an ideal time to get in touch. “This is the start of something,” she says. “What’s there now is the tip of the iceberg.” Check out the latest job opportunities available at Nationwide here.
There is undoubtedly an exodus from the workplace when women become mothers. Many are not able to return to their previous careers and achieve new goals – and we know that’s not always for want of trying. Reacquiring these highly capable women as your top talent is an essential component to help businesses large and small address the gender diversity challenge – and flexible working is certainly the key to unlocking this in the workplace. Flexible working – a hot topic frequently debated in the boardroom! Some are sold on the benefits, others grudgingly do the statutory minimum – seeing flexibility as an occasional necessary evil, not a smart strategy. Yet organisations are under pressure to recruit experienced women to senior roles and address historical gender imbalances. So, it’s not surprising that forward-thinking businesses are realising that flexibility is a way to boost productivity for all and attract the senior women missing from their organisations. “More than 80 % of mothers would choose flexibility over a pay rise.” Flexibility doesn’t have to mean unpleasant compromise for an organisation. There are genuine business benefits to flexibility, beyond accessing this hidden talent pool. Increased profitability: A recent study revealed that 83 % of companies who adopted flexible working saw an increase in profits. Save on staffing costs: Alternative approaches to the traditional 9-to-5 enables organisations to afford more senior people – the value of an experienced part-time mother can far outweigh the benefits of employing a full-time junior with little experience and high training needs. Better productivity: Studies show that flexibility is a real motivator for employees. It’s not surprising then that it engenders loyalty, improving retention and lowering absenteeism by enabling teams to work the way that suits them. <> The Business Case for Flexible Working Gender pay gap reporting is further thrusting the issue of gender disparity into the spotlight. In 2016 the UK government set a target of seeing 33% of FTSE 350 leadership roles filled by women by 2020. According to the Hampton Alexander Review, published in 2017, around 40% of executive appointments need to go to women if that is going to be achieved. Businesses offering flexible options are best-placed to recruit the senior women they need to achieve this goal. Flexibility comes in all shapes and sizes It may be that a full-time role spread over 12 months with August off, term time working, five shorter days, staggered working hours, job share or working from home – to name only a few possibilities. There is certainly no ‘one-size fits all’ to flexibility and with so many variations there is something to suit all businesses and people. Organisations should feel confident designing roles to suit their needs, instead of defaulting to full-time as standard. Let’s not also forget how technology has made it possible to work anywhere at any time, freeing employers to design roles that truly work for their business and their people. Discover the Mothers of our Hood Our mothers aren’t defined by the fact that they’ve had children. They’re skilled, experienced and highly motivated to succeed in the workplace - top talent for any organisation. The figures back this up: 89% have 10+ years’ experience, and they are highly educated. 82% have a degree, while 34% have a masters, 65% are in management and 22% in senior management or board level roles. About 2to3days With these benefits at the forefront, 2to3days is a social and economic movement. Our aim is to help close the void between business and motherhood by championing mothers’ career progression through flexible working. By harnessing the ‘Power of the Hood’ – our online community of 28,000 mothers and employers spread the word and share opportunities across their own networks. The results speak for themselves – employers such as Nationwide, KPMG, Shell and many other SME’s are already experiencing success with us. Adverts on 2to3days generate an average of 12 applications each, and 70% of our clients hire one of our mothers. We are not another ‘post and pray’ job board or an expensive recruitment agency. We care passionately about finding companies and motivated mothers to increase the performance of your business, repaying flexibility with high levels of experience and productivity.