Ben Black, CEO, My Family Care

Work+Family Summary: March 2020

Ben Black, CEO, My Family Care

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Regular work+family updates for
HR and diversity professionals.

Ben Black's monthly summary of everything you need to know about work+family - female leadership, flexible working, gender diversity, and a bit of childcare/eldercare news to boot...


Reasons to be positive during the Coronavirus lockdown

It is virtually impossible to talk about anything other than Coronavirus and lockdown. The world is ending as we know it; gender pay gap reporting is suspended; and we now have stories to compete with our parents' memories of post-war rationing. But let me give you a few reasons to be positive; some personal and some very much work and family related.

Firstly, there is the whole Community piece. David Cameron's Big Society has finally arrived, just not as he thought it would. Neighbours are helping neighbours; volunteers are appearing everywhere; people are making do with less; and parents are finally fully involved in their children's schoolwork. As one famous Instagrammer said: "Climate Change is going to hire Coronavirus' publicist on a permanent basis!".

Overnight progress in flexible working

Every year the business case and potential for flexible working gets a little bit stronger. Lockdown has seen 50 years of progress made in approximately 2 weeks. In times of change it is not the strongest or cleverest that survive - it's the most adaptable, said Darwin.

People are working in ways and places that were simply unimaginable at the start of the year. And the people who benefit most? Parents and carers who have been telling the world for ever and a day that it was possible to combine career and family with a bit of creativity and employer support in the mix.

How organisations are responding to Coronavirus challenges

We work with about 400 of the UK's leading employers. It's been remarkable seeing the differences in approach and speed that different organisations react. There seem to be three different groups that are emerging:

  1. Those that have gone into decision-making "light-speed" mode as a way of making sure there is a business ready to fly again on the other side
  2. Those super-confident or well-placed organisations where it really does seem to be business as normal
  3. And those that know they need to do something but haven't known exactly what that "something" is and are stuck whilst they work it out.

It's definitely more fun working for the first or second category!

How is Bright Horizons responding to the crisis?

Bright Horizons has gone, almost overnight, from acting like a large US corporate to a nimble smaller company where decisions get made and progress happens incredibly quickly.

Very refreshing for those of us that came from My Family Care, and it has brought the senior team together like the best team-bonding exercise you can buy.

We've moved from running 315 nurseries to a core of key worker nursery 'hubs', and are launching a backup childcare service for key workers across the UK this Friday.

All done under the leadership of a new female boss - the indefatigable Ros Marshall. We are looking forward to introducing you at our next Think-Tank (whenever that might be).

Ben Black

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Regular work+family updates for
HR and diversity professionals.