London School of Economics & Political Science, Winner 2013, The My Family Care Best for all Stages of Motherhood Award
Sector: Further Education
The London School of Economics & Political Science, LSE, has sector-leading support for mothers. As well as a well defined range of policies and options, they also have a pragmatic and realistic appreciation of the way that becoming a parent can alter work, and are open to honest conversations with employees about what this might entail.
Maternity leave is paid in full for 18 weeks, and they also have a pre-maternity period where one-to-one advice is given. All expectant (or pre-adoptive) mothers are offered a mentor if they want one. In addition to furnishing employees with guidance on their rights and options around flexible working practices, all mothers are encouraged to attend LSE’s Balancing Work and Being a Mum course. Places are also offered to the partners of the mothers-to-be, irrespective of whether they work for LSE or not.
On return from maternity leave mothers are well supported. Phased return is offered as a matter of course, and mentors offer support and advice on transitioning to becoming a working parent. At this stage the organisation also initiates a conversation with mothers about how combining work and career will affect things like career development and work output.
LSE provides mothers with access to an onsite nursery, and there is a space set aside where expectant mothers may rest, and breastfeeding mothers can express and store milk.
Managers receive practical training and one-to-one discussions about managing flexible workers, and how flexibility can improve work engagement and benefit the organisation.
LSE have had a number of successes around their programme for mothers, which demonstrate both the popularity amongst employees about what they are doing and also how actively pushing parental provisions is integrating and normalising it with LSE’s culture. They have noted that their Balancing Work and Being a Mum course is regularly over-subscribed. Partners who attend who work for other organisations invariably contrast what LSE is doing favourably against what their own employer does. The senior management back the support offered, with one manager training to be a mentor and another sharing his experience of combining work and being a parent. The Parents network at LSE is growing, and is developing ideas which have been put in place, such as an intranet version of Mumsnet at LSE.
LSE has also recognised that supporting motherhood (and parenthood in general) isn’t solely about those who have young and pre-school children, and have introduced mentors specifically for parents with older children.
Describing what motivates LSE to continue to develop its support for mothers, Gail Keeley said ‘The LSE continues to develop its support for mothers so that it remains a good employer for them and attracts, retains and motivates the best employees’.