We’ve recently put a major focus on updating our parental policies. We’ve enhanced our maternity and paternity packages – and created a new programme to support parents returning to work. Not only is this a hugely positive move for our agency, but it’s a stark reminder of how important it is to support people at their significant life stages. And it’s specifically made me think about my own experience as a new parent – and how different it would have been, to be in a supportive, nurturing environment, like this one.
A few years ago, we adopted a little girl. She was a just under two and it was a time full of hope. My husband was in a well-paid job and I took up adoption leave. It was limited to SMP (Statutory Maternity Pay) but it didn’t cause concern, because of my husband’s steady job. However, everything changed. My husband was diagnosed with a large mass in his brain and he underwent extensive surgery to remove it. I had to cut my adoption leave short, because I was now suddenly the only breadwinner in the family. The words overwhelmed and scared are nowhere near enough to describe how I felt at the time.
It all became too much and I took 4 months of unpaid leave to give my husband more time to recover and get my daughter settled in nursery.
One day I got a phone call from my then employer, explaining that I was at risk of redundancy. Although they did offer me a different role, they wouldn’t budge on my flexible working request. This meant that I wouldn’t be able to support my family in the way that I needed to, caring for my husband and managing childcare for my daughter. So, despite the risk, I decided to decline the offer and look for a role in a company where the culture was supportive towards parents.
I trawled websites for mentions of flexible working and only applied to those. This was November 2019. Pre-pandemic, those opportunities were few and far between.
Then I got my first interview with CCgroup. I cannot explain what a fresh breath of air it was. Even during the interviews, I was able to speak about my personal experiences and what I needed. I so clearly remember Rich (our CEO), Katie (Head of Talent) and Ais (CFO) speaking about their own kids and their experiences of the working world. I bought up flexibility, asked to work between certain hours and it was absolutely no issue.
Little did we know what would come just a few months later….
During the pandemic, all the CCgroup parents got together on a Zoom call to talk about our situations. Everyone was understanding and there was a sense of being ‘in it together’. It was not an easy time at all, as all pandemic parents will know, but knowing that CCgroup didn’t care if my daughter joined a Zoom call or I had to take time off because my husband was having a bad day, was balm to my soul.
In fact, one of the things I most love is that we all know each other’s children’s names, our kids have all joined meetings and people just say hi and keep on talking. It’s not a thing, it’s not a problem. It’s complete acceptance of our whole selves.
Post-pandemic, the flexibility which I already thought was amazing, is way more than that. We can organise our time around our lives and are trusted to make those decisions. Because of this, we eat breakfast together as a family every day, I get to take my daughter to school every day, I’m part of the school community which I thought I would never be able to do as a working mum. I get to have a fulfilling career in a place that doesn’t penalise me for being a parent, yet I also don’t miss out on my daughter.
As a carer and a mother, the juggling act never ends, but having a company which encourages and accepts me for who I am – all of me – makes it so much easier.