City firms hiring 'Parenting Consultants'

City firms hiring 'Parenting Consultants'

“Professionals seek professionals,” Kathryn Mewes, a Parenting Consultant, says to the Financial Times (FT).

Mewes is one of many Parenting Consultants who is now paid to give parenting seminars at corporate companies. She explains why her help is sought after: “Parents are getting older; they have been in control their whole lives and been successful. Suddenly a baby turns up and life turns on its head.”

Anita Cleare - a parenting speaker, writer and coach at The Positive Parenting Project – makes the business case for an employer paying for parental advice to the FT: “If you’re not sleeping at night or worried about your teenager, it can impact productivity.”

The high cost of motherhood also places additional strains on staff. Commenting on Glassdoor’s Economic Research report last week, Dr Andrew Chamberlain, Chief Economist at Glassdoor, said: “The gender pay gap widens amongst working women with children. British working mothers are significantly worse off than those without family responsibilities, and this pressure will not help the UK address its workplace diversity issues.”

Quite simply, the culture has to be welcoming to working parents. Research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that 54,000 new working mothers annually lose their jobs due to workplace discrimination.

Furthermore, those that do stay are hindered because of their child. Research by Watchshop.com found that 56% of British mothers think they would be further in their careers if they didn’t have children. 33% said they felt guilty if they have to miss work because of their children. 

Speaking to HR Grapevine, Mike Molinaro, COO of Human Resources & HR Transformation Lead at Barclays, says: “If you have a common corporate culture and if it is strong and rich enough, then it can overcome all these obstacles.”

This something that Debbie Ingham - a Chartered Occupational Psychologist who advises firms such as Deloitte – sees again and again.

She tells the FT how parents are trying to stop home life seeping into their working life. Often, she says, working for other mothers is the most difficult: “There is a belief that I’ve made it work, why can’t you?”

Another issue is maternal guilt. “[Some working mothers] believed every stay-at-home mum was reading every day at 4pm. We helped challenge those beliefs.”

Hayley Fisher, People Director at Thomsons Online Benefits, has previously called on HR to better align culture with childcare.

“While recent policy changes, such as flexible working, have helped,” she says, “it’s crucial that employers encourage this.

“This may depend on a wider culture change so that all employees see flexible working as a possibility, rather than preferential treatment for those with children. This will ensure organisations retain valued people and their skills and promote a diverse workforce.”

Earlier this year an author has sparked controversy by claiming that all female employees should be entitled to maternity leave – even if they’re not pregnant. To find out why, click here.

Or, to read about a new bill that could allow a ‘breastfeeding hour’, click here.  


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