Star Interview

Caroline Cording,
Group Human Resources Director, Mamas & Papas 

For Caroline Cording, Group Human Resources Director at Mamas & Papas, recruiting top talent into the business is a collaborative process for her HR team. She shares with myGrapevine magazine how they go about this…

Words by Amanda Vlietstra

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Recruitment and retention are at the top of every employer’s agenda right now. Earlier this year, a survey by the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) at the London School of Economics and Political Science found that half of all UK businesses are struggling to recruit, with a fifth of firms experiencing retention problems. An unprecedentedly tight labour market combined with the cost-of-living crisis has meant that thousands of UK workers are considering jumping ship to a job with a better salary and more benefits – and therefore companies who stand the best chance of attracting, recruiting and retaining their staff are the ones who offer attractive and competitive packages, with employee satisfaction at their core.

This appears to be very much the case at Mamas and Papas (M&P), one of the UK’s leading nursery-based brands, supplying prams, pushchairs, maternity wear and baby equipment. Caroline Cording, the company’s Group Human Resources Director – who has been in post since September 2019 – has helped build a people agenda that puts the employee experience front and centre, integrating vital trends such as wellness and flexible working in order to create a highly attractive working environment – that can help to attract and recruit the best talent into the business. She sat down with myGrapevine magazine to talk about how she is helping to recruit the best talent into the business, whether the flexible working trend is helping to recruit a more diverse workforce, and shared examples of how she is helping to support staff wellbeing.

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CV of Caroline


Mamas & Papas
Group Human Resources Director
Sep 2019 – Present  
HR Consultant
Aug 2018 – Aug 2019
Deckers Brands
Vice President Human Resources EMEA
2013 – 2018  
SVP Human Resources EMEA
2011 – 2013  
Habitat (Ikano Group)
Group HR Director
2009 – 2011
Arcadia/ BHS
Group Human Resources Director
June 2006 – Oct 2009
George P Johnson Experience Marketing
Human Resources Director EMEA
2003 – 2006  
Caroline Cording
How do you ensure you recruit the best talent into the business?

This is a truly collaborative process for the HR team. At the heart of our process, [the] HR and recruitment team will interview and ensure that any candidates are culturally aligned and share the same values, as well as meet the skills and experience needed. We work closely with the line managers to understand what skills and experience they are looking to hire with a view to the future too.


"There are many moments where I have been proud of my teams and individuals who have grown into great leaders"

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In your opinion, are the recruitment and retention trends around flexible and hybrid working here to stay?

I think they’re here to stay, yes. Covid-19 has accelerated it, but I think it was on its way – but it would have been a slower transition. There are people who are super-sceptical about it who believe you can’t work as effectively from home, that you’re not as productive, can’t build teams or collaborate as effectively from home. Covid-19 has shown that you can do it but it’s hard work.

Being able to be together in the team, in the office, being able to do stuff in the moment, whether that’s coaching or collaboration, definitely makes certain things easier – and team building too. But I think it’s the way forward. Technology is continuing to advance and that’s going to be super helpful.

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Getting to know Caroline:

What attracted you to a career in HR?

I initially joined a firm of chartered accountants in a specialist HR team who supported client senior recruitment, graduate recruitment and career pathing; this established my interest in HR. I truly understood the impact HR could have when I was at Mothercare (30 years ago) when the business went through transformational change and HR strategy was aligned to the business strategy and truly creating impact.

What do you like most about working in HR?

There are many things I love about working in HR – aligning HR strategy with business strategy and ensuring that the team adds value to our people and the business; establishing opportunities for all and seeing individuals strive and grow and have the ability to be their best selves; being part of a leadership team that values people as individuals and creating a culture that is truly people-centric.

What's your proudest career moment to date?

There are many moments where I have been proud of my teams and individuals who have grown into great leaders. I am exceptionally proud to be part of an amazing senior leadership team at M&P where as a team [we have delivered business success through our people].

What do you think are the biggest recruitment trends?

This is definitely a candidate-led market right now. Candidates are looking for companies that align to their values, companies where the culture is people-focussed where companies are supporting wellbeing, hybrid working, family-friendly support and we are also seeing candidates being much more focussed on the environment (ESG).

Do you think this trend towards flexible working helps to recruit a more diverse workforce?

Absolutely. I’ve been involved in groups where we talk about flexible working globally, what other businesses have seen, and it’s very interesting. Some are working fully flexibly, where you can say if it’s better for you to be in the office or at home. I think it depends on the maturity of your workforce and management team, as you have to make sure you’ve got the skills to manage people remotely.


"We work closely with the line managers to understand what skills and experience they are looking to hire with a view to the future too"

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What do you do to support staff wellness?

We re-worked all our family policies – that was really one of the early points of working out what we wanted to do for our people in terms of family, family planning, maternity leave. We’ve updated all those [policies]. We’ve aligned maternity, surrogacy, adoption, shared parental leave as well as stillbirths [policies] for all our workforce, including our retail staff, where we’ve enhanced maternity pay for the first 13 weeks at 100% pay then second 13 weeks, we top up to 50% pay. That’s a significant shift for us as a business in terms of where we were.

We’ve also increased paternity leave to four weeks paid leave, we’ve increased miscarriage and baby loss to 100% for at least four weeks. And what we’ve said to all our colleagues is that everyone deals with loss in a completely different way…If someone needs eight weeks, we will completely support them. Although we’ve got a guideline, we’ve got flexibility around that. We’ve also introduced IVF support – five days pay per cycle – and support for foster leave as well. We’re really trying to support our people through all the stages of life they’ll come across.

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