Mumsnet Founder Tells Seminar Audience That Diversity Has Become an Economic Issue

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    Companies must be family-friendly to survive the continuing economic downturn. That’s the key message to business leaders in the region who are being urged to embrace diversity in order to retain senior female staff when they have children.

    At a recent seminar hosted by Leeds law firm Squire Sanders, the founder of Britain’s best-known parenting website, Mumsnet.com, told the audience to strive to be more family friendly.

    The event was part of Mumsnet’s national Family Friendly campaign. Mumsnet is on a mission to change the culture of the UK workplace and make it more family friendly for men as well as women.

    Pitching for work is a daily occurrence for many firms and often part of the pitch involves demonstrating your commitment to diversity. Demonstrating a commitment to more flexible offerings for men and women with families can often mean the difference in whether or not that particular firm wins the work.

    One of the biggest challenges for companies is retaining senior part-time female staff when they have children, being family friendly will ensure staff are retained and the likelihood of attracting senior level hires is greater.

    Squire Sanders is a member of Mumsnet’s Family Friendly programme. In order to join, companies must be willing to work alongside Mumsnet, scrutinizing their policies, training, premises and communications to ensure that employees are being treated well.

    The website’s inaugural Family Friendly awards took place in November 2011 with Squire Sanders being the only law firm to be recognised, winning a Silver award for its maternity, back-to-work and flexible working policies.

    The Leeds workshop was entitled: “Can companies afford (not) to be family friendly?” and focused on the legal and financial services sectors. Attendees at the Leeds workshop included employees from KPMG, First Direct, Zenith Provecta, ACAS, Forbes and Irwin Mitchell.

    Carrie Longton shared her experiences of the first year of running the Family Friendly programme, what she had learned from the companies involved, and why she believed it made commercial sense for all employers. Claire Edwards, HR Policy Director for Squire Sanders, discussed what membership of the programme had meant for the firm and its future objectives. The final speaker was Fiona Severs from Lexington Gray, a legal recruitment consultancy specializing in finding part-time and flexible roles for lawyers. She spoke about the business case for being family friendly, and how family-centred policies at work could actually save employers money.

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