‘Less Talk, More Action’: A survey of Citymothers, with foreword by Dr Thérèse Coffey MP

Citymothers LogoTo link in with the milestone of reaching 1000 members, Citymothers recently conducted a survey to seek our members’ experiences and perspectives of managing a career and a family.

Please find attached our report on the results, ‘Less Talk, More Action’, with a foreword by Dr Thérèse Coffey MP, co-author of the recent study ‘Executive Women in the Workplace 2013’.

The results, which reflect the views of 256 respondents, are startling, if not surprising. They underline the urgent need for employers to talk less and do more; to enhance the support they give to all working parents, and particularly working mothers if they wish to see more women reaching senior levels within their organisation. Some key findings, such as the proportion of respondents with a flexible working arrangement in place (77%), represent good progress being made, however the survey results highlight the career-cost of such arrangements. This flexible working ‘trap’ needs addressing urgently if working mothers are to reach their career goals and potential.

Summary findings:
  • Although a remarkable 77% of respondents have a flexible working arrangement in place, 45% of these felt their path to career progression would be slower as a result, whilst 32% felt it would be unachievable as long as this arrangement was in place.
  • ‘Establishing a work/life balance’ and ‘maintaining career trajectory’ are the standout challenges for survey respondents
  • Only 12.5% said their employer had taken a ‘proactive’ role in supporting their maternity transition
  • When asked what one thing their employer could do to support them better, feedback included: offering maternity coaching; access to an onsite / local subsidised nursery; greater acceptance of flexible working; a need for line managers to support and implement company policies; more open lines of communication; more defined paths to career progression.
  • ‘Parental guilt’ was the single biggest challenge identified by the working mothers who responded to the survey
  • The majority of members (57%) who responded said they would continue to work and pursue their career goals even if finances weren’t a consideration
  • 48% felt they needed to be more proactive in their careers to achieve their ambitions, whilst 84% said they believed networking had the potential to advance their career
  • Only 2% of respondents said their experience of managing a City career and children was ‘very positive’; over 50% felt it was a ‘work in progress’.
Reactions to the survey results:

‘Citymothers are to be commended for this detailed and thoughtful survey: all organisations will benefit from the results. The survey really helps to pinpoint key areas for more and better support’

Laura King, Partner, Global Head of HR & Talent, Clifford Chance

‘In line with the Citymothers survey, we recognise that more needs to be done in terms of work-life balance. Working condensed hours, job-sharing or considering a role in another division of the bank are all possibilities offered by RBS to returning mums, to provide greater flexibility’

Jessica Chu, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Markets and International Banking, RBS

‘The Citymothers survey really begins to voice the concerns of mothers in the City and across different sectors.  In particular, I was struck by the finding on career trajectory which is so relevant to the work firms are doing to increase women at senior levels and the importance of career transitioning’

David Shields, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Herbert Smith Freehills

‘The research highlights several important factors that can make returning from maternity leave so challenging.  It was telling to see just how many comments were made about the crucial role which immediate managers can play and also the need for organisations to be more supportive of all sorts of flexibility, both formal and informal.  I suspect we all have more to do and this report helpfully points us in some very practical directions’

Maria Bentley, Global Head of Human Resources, Nomura International

‘The results show some real improvements in the area of maternity transition – such as the number of respondents with flexible working arrangements in place – but nevertheless highlight there is still much room for development in helping employers understand the need and the value of investing in better support structures for their female employees going on maternity leave’

Carolanne Minashi, Head of Diversity, Employee Relations and Employee Engagement, Citi


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