“Leaders sharing their experiences firsthand can be hugely powerful to shift the dialogue, especially for deeply personal topics like family and family structures.”
Our final panel focused on recognising diverse paths to parenthood and the importance of comprehensive support for all employees. The panel, hosted by Roisin Mackenzie, Chief People Officer at Saga plc, featured Zarah Doyle, European Talent Director and PD UKI at ODEON Cinemas Group, Stacey Ramm, DEI & Well-being Lead (formerly of Evri and Virgin Media) and DeShaun Wise Porter, VP - Global Head DEI at Hilton and explored the various aspects related to family-friendly workplaces, fertility challenges, and inclusive policies.
The discussion revolved around alternative routes to parenthood, such as IVF, surrogacy, and adoption leave, as well as impact on mental health and the support provided by organisations. The panel highlighted that one in six couples globally seek treatment for fertility, and key challenges include emotional, physical, social, performance, and financial aspects. The emotional toll, physical challenges of medication, social and performance impacts, and the financial burden were discussed.
The panel discussed how leading companies provide support for employees struggling with fertility challenges or exploring alternative routes to parenthood. The importance of comprehensive policies, adaptable approaches, and financial support for treatment was emphasised. The need for companies to understand and support the diverse family structures of their employees was also highlighted. This includes offering support for adoptive leave, removing financial concerns, and ensuring policies are truly family-friendly.
The discussion touched upon the often-overlooked aspect of miscarriages and the need for companies to address the emotional and psychological impact of such losses. The importance of creating a psychologically safe environment and offering internal and external support for colleagues experiencing loss was emphasised.
The role of leadership in creating a supportive environment is key, and the panel emphasised the power of leadership sharing personal experiences to foster psychological safety. The need for a holistic approach to family leave, inclusive of various family structures, was highlighted.
They also discussed the stigma surrounding fertility challenges and the need to create a workplace culture that supports all employees, regardless of their family-building journeys. The panel emphasised that workplaces need to evolve and embrace a more inclusive, adaptable, and supportive culture.
The discussion touched upon the global perspective, highlighting that some countries are more advanced in providing facilities like breastfeeding rooms. The panel encouraged organisations to adopt more progressive policies and keep pace with evolving family structures.
In summary, the panel provided insights into the challenges employees face in their journey to parenthood, the importance of comprehensive support, and the role of leadership and workplace culture in fostering an inclusive environment for all. The conversation emphasised the need for policies and practices that reflect the diverse experiences and needs of employees as they navigate fertility and parental matters.