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UK Working Families award: URW parents share their experiences

#Group News #People

Last May in the UK, we were awarded two Working Families Best Practice Awards in the Best for Mothers and Best for Fathers categories. It was great to see our people practices and work culture recognised by the UK work-life balance charity. Special recognition was given to our initiatives that ensure a flexible and parent-friendly workplace for all our parents.

We strongly believe that taking pride in who you are makes for a safer, more supportive workplace where everyone can be their best, most authentic selves! Through our Be You at URW Diversity and Inclusion Framework, we’re committed to ensuring we have inclusive practices in place for everyone, including parents, so everyone maintains a great work-life balance at URW.

Katie Wyle, General Manager Westfield London, and Pip Gill, Consolidation Manager, London, both share their experiences being parents at our URW UK office where our D&I structures such as Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Shared Parental Leave policies and our Family/Personal Days go over and above the UK statutory minimum in terms of pay and flexibility.

Katie Wyle, General Manager Westfield London

   For over 20 years I had focused solely on building my career. So in summer 2019 having just landed my dream promotion as General Manager of Westfield London, I was understandably nervous to tell the company I was pregnant with my first child.

Fast forward to Autumn 2020 and 3 weeks after returning from 10 months of maternity leave I was again telling the business that I was pregnant. This time however, I felt empowered and excited as the support and encouragement I had experienced during my first maternity leave reassured me that the business would only view this as positive.

I had various personal meetings with the Senior Leadership Team before going off on my second maternity leave in 12 months and have only had positive encouragement from them. As a result of this support from such a genuinely family-focused company, I have been able to avoid the traditional feelings of guilt and being pulled in a million directions. I’ve received coaching pre and post-maternity leave, been fully involved in hiring my cover and setting key objectives so I can be comfortable going on maternity leave and be able to fully switch off to focus on my family.

I feel so privileged to work for URW and I look forward to returning from maternity leave as a full-time working mother of two.   

Pip Gill, Consolidation Manager, London

   Although I’m not a first-time dad, having had such a wonderful parental leave experience when I had my first child (also at URW) I was very keen to utilise the opportunity the organisation provides regarding Paternity and Shared Parental leave. Similar to my first experience, my line management and HR teams were very supportive in pointing me to the resources needed to better understand the options and benefits available for working families and guided me through the entire process.

The leave and other benefits have allowed me better support my wife and 2-year-old daughter as well as create a real bond with my new baby boy. The COVID-19 period with its restrictions has been a difficult period for everyone especially working families, however, being there for my family and dedicating all my time to them has made that period so much better and easier.

The process end to end has been stress-free from a work perspective which has allowed me to focus my energies appropriately at home to my family.