iCrossing, Winner 2015, The Citymothers Best for All Stages of Motherhood Award
iCrossing’s approach to supporting its mothers is fresh and innovative. Over the past five years the company has actively set out to increase its female workforce, believing that a more diverse working demographic will benefit both its culture and its clients. iCrossing has a desire to attract and retain the best in a competitive industry. Nevertheless, it takes an individualised approach to each mum-to-be, acknowledging the fact that each new mum, and each pregnancy, is different. There is no ‘one size fits all’. In this spirit, when a woman has revealed that she is pregnant, she is offered a meeting with HR to discuss how she wants to manage her pregnancy in the workplace and also to check that she feels healthy enough to travel to and work in the office. In this meeting she is given the option to tailor her working pattern through, for example, home working or a change in hours. She is also able to talk about her pay during maternity leave, KIT days, returning to work and how much communication she wants with work while she is off.
The week before her planned final day of work, the pregnant employee is offered a meeting with her line manager to discuss performance and any promotion opportunities in the pipeline (and whether or not she would want to be considered for promotion while on maternity leave). She is also asked if she would like to participate in any training activities while on maternity leave. The purpose of this is not to add pressure but to ensure that no one on maternity leave misses out on career or progression opportunities.
All mums-to-be and returning mums are reminded of iCrossing’s flexible working policy. Where appropriate a staggered return to work over several months is offered; this is particularly appreciated by first-time mums who prefer a more gentle approach which allows them to negotiate their new dual role over time. Mums also have the benefit of knowing that iCrossing’s line managers are trained in how to manage teams flexibly – supporting the company’s ethos that flexible working needs to be culturally driven and not simply detailed in policy.
This year iCrossing has introduced a new initiative called ‘Together Time’, which aims to promote a culture of flexible working for everyone with caring duties, regardless of whether they work part- or full-time. Together Time allows staff to take two hours out of their day for caring duties without having to use their annual leave. Examples where this might apply include going to see their child’s nativity play, going to a school assembly in the middle of the day or taking an elderly relative to the doctor’s. By launching Together Time, iCrossing hopes to engender a culture where staff openly balance home with work life and celebrate family life at work. Staff know that they are trusted to get their work done and manage their own time, which enhances their loyalty to iCrossing as an employer.
iCrossing also offers a mentoring scheme, iFamily, which matches new mums or mums-to-be with seasoned parents who can guide them through their re-entry into the workplace. At least half of the mentors are dads, which underlines to mums that, at iCrossing, dads are supported to take an equal role in parenting. iCrossing hopes that mums feel empowered and strengthened by this attitude.
iCrossing is achieving its business aims of attracting and retaining women. In 2009, the workforce was 35% female; this figure has increased to 44% in 2014. The average length of service for mums on the iCrossing executive board is eight years and six months, proof that the company retains working mums at the top and supports them on their way up there.
Of the mothers at iCrossing, 50% work flexibly, further evidence that the flexible working ethos is culturally embedded. The expectation is that this figure will rise to 61% this year.