London School of Economics and Political Science, Finalist 2015, The Citymothers Best for All Stages of Motherhood Award

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) wants to ensure that it provides a work environment that allows mothers to focus on both their career and their family. For the LSE this makes good business sense and has a positive effect on gender equality. To meet the aim, the organisation offers a comprehensive set of initiatives to support the whole of motherhood. This includes:

  • workshops for parents:

o   Balancing work and being mum (places are given to partners, even if they are not  employees, to support the mums who are employees)

o   Balancing work and being dad (places are given to partners, even if they are not employees, to support the dads who are employees)

o   Building resilience in our primary age children and ourselves

o   Balancing work and being the carer of an adult

  • networks for parents
  • flexible working
  • paid time to attend antenatal appointments
  • excellent maternity and adoptive leave and pay
  • phased return to work
  • on-site subsidised nursery that also provides emergency childcare when usual childcare arrangements fail
  • emergency leave on full pay
  • one-to-one meetings with HR staff to provide tailored advice on leave/keeping in touch/flexible working
  • the opportunity to seek support from a trained mentor on managing the transition to becoming a working mother

In addition, to ensure that women taking maternity leave do not slip behind colleagues in their research endeavours, the LSE offers academic employees, who are absent for more than 18 weeks, a teaching- and administrative-free term on full pay to catch up on research. This can be an enormous support to the careers of academic staff.

“It makes a big difference if your employer understands and supports families,” said one of the LSE’s assistant professors. She and her partner, who also works for the LSE, decided to share the care of their child equally, each taking six months off, followed by a term of research leave on full pay. She felt enormously creative on return and really benefited from the term free of teaching and administration responsibilities. “It was a time of turbulence and creativity. If your institution can support you during this period they can reap the rewards of harnessing that creativity.” She is publishing more than she ever did, has recently taken on the centre directorship and feels her career has been boosted by just having the space to focus on research at that time.

The LSE monitors application and uptake of all its maternity-focused policies to ensure consistency in management approach and provides training to manage unconscious bias as a mandatory requirement for all staff involved in making decisions on recruitment, review, promotion and reward of their colleagues.

In the future, the LSE will continue to encourage the uptake of shared parental leave and research leave and is working towards introducing a new workshop to help parents to meet the challenge of bringing up teenagers.