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What is the pledge?

It’s free for any organisation to join the Working Forward campaign. If you have the authority to act on behalf of your organisation you can join by signing the Working Forward pledge – to make your workplace the best it can be for pregnant women and new mothers.

To help you fulfil your pledge, we have identified four action areas – leadership, employee confidence, supporting line managers and flexible working – which could help make a real difference  not only to the experiences of pregnant women and new mothers but to all employees at your organisation.

When you make your pledge, you’ll choose two or three action areas for your organisation to focus on in addition to leadership. We’ll then provide the relevant resources and materials to get you started.

Pledge action areas

Read about the four pledge action areas below to help you decide which action areas would work best for your organisation. Leadership is a mandatory action area for all members, because workplaces that have senior support are the most successful in embracing the other three pledge areas.

You can also find real examples of how other Working Forward members are supporting pregnant women and new mothers in each area on the take action: your stories page.

Visible leadership is one of the most effective ways of making sure everyone knows and understands that your organisation is committed to family friendly policies. It also helps the bedding-in process, so that any changes become an integral part of the culture across your organisation. That’s why everyone who signs up to the Working Forward pledge must agree to take action on leadership.

In this action area, the topics you’ll be looking at include:

  • visible leadership
  • establishing a champion
  • role modelling
  • communicating the benefits to the board and organisation
  • mentoring, reverse mentoring and sponsorship
  • maternity coaching
  • setting up employee networks
  • avoiding bias
  • measuring and monitoring progress

Read leadership case studies from Working Forward members, such as John Lewis, Mitie and Deloitte.

Employees who feel secure and confident to talk about their pregnancy or maternity with their line managers and employers are more likely to seek and get the support they need. Making sure they know about your family-friendly pregnancy and maternity policies not only benefits them but can build trust and confidence across the whole organisation.

Topics in this action area include:

  • developing a communications plan
  • communicating effectively
  • optimising internal channels
  • using positive and inclusive language
  • dedicating intranet resources to parents and new mothers
  • delivering easy-access information packs
  • establishing peer support groups, mentoring and coaching programmes
  • encouraging employees to give feedback and responding to it
  • smoothing maternity leave transitions

Find out how Working Forward members, such as Ford, RAF and EY Family Network, have improved employee confidence and supported their people.

Line managers need training, support and resources to move organisations forward in their journey to become fully family-friendly employers. This involves creating workplaces that see flexibility as an opportunity rather than a weakness. Giving line managers the skills and confidence to communicate and manage pregnant women and new mothers successfully is a win-win for both sides, and the organisation as a whole.

Common themes in this action area include:

  • preparing for maternity leave and return to work
  • applying policies and procedures fairly and consistently
  • effective communication and confidence with key conversations
  • dispelling negative myths about flexible working
  • tackling unconscious bias
  • setting appropriate objectives for job design and workload
  • managing geographically dispersed teams
  • buddying and peer-to-peer support programmes

In these case studies, you can find out what Working Forward members, such as Nationwide and BT, have been doing to support their line managers.

Flexible working offers huge benefits to organisations and their people. It’s an important option for many employees but particularly mothers returning from maternity leave, as it enables them to find the balance they are looking for between work and childcare. Women are much more likely to stay in the job market if there are flexible roles available. If employers can think creatively about making work flexible for everyone, there’s a greater opportunity for them to attract, recruit and retain talented people.

The flexible working action area deals with themes such as:

  • developing a flexible working strategy
  • creating the right culture for flexible working to thrive
  • communicating the benefits of flexible working to all
  • designing jobs to suit flexible working
  • managing flexible workers successfully
  • making flexibility a part of the recruitment process

Get insights into how other Working Forward members, such as Mitie, Nationwide and Royal Mail, have put flexible working arrangements in place.

Last updated: 17 Jul 2017