We speak with those people who are changing the mix in the financial services industry. Talking all things diversity and inclusion, with some fun thrown in along the way
Ep.85 - Parenthood Diaries: Parenting through the ages
Key Learning Points
1.The highs and lows through different stages of parenthood
2.How insurance companies can better support their employees to achieve a healthy work-life balance
3.The importance of implementing clear boundaries as a working parent
On the final episode of the Parenthood Diaries, we welcome David Clamp, who is the founder of one of our series sponsors - The Camelot Network - and also works as an independent consultant helping insurance businesses to navigate and embrace digital innovation. As a father of four adult children, he reflects on the different challenges he faced juggling work and family life through the years, before giving us his take on where the insurance industry has made progress in supporting working parents and where there is room for improvement.
Katie asks David if some stages of parenting were easier than others. David explains that in the beginning, he found parenting to be physically challenging - sleepless nights were just the tip of the iceberg! But also, an important part of his role was supporting his wife emotionally, as she had a lot to contend with… not least those dastardly hormones! Once the babies became toddlers and then young children, he found that parenting entered an ‘amazing middle phase’ where they would show him lots of love, including running up to him as he returned home from work. ‘Kids that age spell love as “T.I.M.E.”; the most important thing is to spend time with them.’ The teenage years were more difficult mentally than physically, and he learned that the most important thing throughout was to work on maintaining the bond with his wife - the kids took notice!
Raj then asks David how he managed his responsibilities at work when he began his career in the 90s. David explains that he had to ‘ruthlessly prioritise’ his time to stop work from expanding into all hours. He found it vital to establish clear boundaries and stick to them - such as rejecting calls late in the evening or weekends; ‘understand that when you come through the door, you leave work behind’. David tells us how he had to remind himself to change his language from that of a project manager to a Dad and partner. Offering a different viewpoint, Josie shares that whenever she called her Dad at work, he would never fail to pick up the phone and say ‘I always have time for you.’ - a powerful reminder that kids remember your actions.
Katie also asks David whether he has seen much change in how the insurance industry treats its employees. David says that there wasn’t much active support at the start of his career - the norm was not to bring your family life to work. He believes that changes brought in by COVID-19 - namely, working from home - have been positive, although they do place more responsibility on the individual to set boundaries. David still believes that the industry has a way to go and could be more forthcoming with financial and family support and advice. He recounts that at work he often put on a ‘front’, so he'd be seen to be achieving all their objectives. He thinks it would have been helpful to talk more openly about his family at the beginning of his career.
David notes that senior leaders need to pay attention to these conversations: ‘The more you have motivated people who are really buying into the actual culture (rather than the espoused one) of your company, the more effective they will be, the better reputation you have…. the more that will improve your organisation's bottom line.’ He also notes that the days of working for one organisation your whole life are over; employers need to create an environment where their employees want to work and feel comfortable bringing their whole selves. ‘As talent becomes more scarce, organisations need to attract the whole person, not just the “9-5”’.
His top tip? Do everything you can to relish and treasure every moment. Work will always be there, your family won’t be.
Ep.84 - Parenthood Diaries: Modernising fatherhood
Key Learning Points:
1.The Father Stunter Culture and how it is holding men back at home and at work
2.Replacing the concept of Breadwinning with Carewinning and why this matters
3.How workplaces can help to challenge some of the harmful social norms that get in the way of gender equity in modern society
On the penultimate episode of the Parenthood Dairies, we are here to talk about modern fatherhood with Danusia Malina-Derben. Alongside being a mum of ten, an academic, entrepreneur, author, speaker and thought leader, Danusia also leads a global firm that fixes boardroom strategy and consults on achieving peak performance. And on top of that, she also hosts two podcasts, School for Mothers and School for Fathers and has also recently written two books on parenthood. We are very excited to have her on the podcast to discuss the latest of these: Spunk.
We first ask Danusia where the idea for Spunk came from. Writing on leadership and feminism, Danusia tells us that she released her first book on motherhood from her own experience and research in 2021. Spunk was the next natural step in that journey, as she had spoken to hundreds of men about fatherhood. Yet this book needed to be research-led even more than her last - so she built a small team of researchers and spoke to over 1,300 respondents, all who were fathers.
Josie says to Danusia how she particularly enjoyed her chapter ‘Share’ - about how Fathers are viewed as the assistant - whether that’s with regard to parenting or domestically. Often, Dads are seen as the fun ‘playmate’ rather than a part of the day-to-day grind.
Danusia says how her research revealed that the ‘domestic zone’ remains women’s, and there were tasks that the surveyed men unanimously did not do in the home. We discuss how mothers are often perpetuating this through ‘maternal gatekeeping’, where women see certain tasks as theirs and assume that they can do them better than their male partner could. This contributes to the ‘father-stunter culture’ - which Danusia believes makes it difficult for men to step into ‘the fatherhood they really want’. Her research revealed a clear desire from men for fatherhood to be viewed differently and to dismiss the idea that men cannot parent as well as women. Danusia points out that it is only through addressing the imbalance in the domestic domain that we can achieve real change in the workplace. She believes that Men, as well as women and children, are being hurt by these ‘patriarchal narratives’.
Josie then asks about another chapter - ‘Fathers with Spunk Care’ - and the concept of a ‘carewinner’ rather than a ‘breadwinner’. Danusia found that men’s identity ‘is squarely around work and financial contribution’, and wished to explore what was standing in the way of being caring fathers. She found that fathers are often ridiculed by others when showing care, as well as demeaned when prioritising their family life over work. She, therefore, invented the phrase ‘carewinner’ - which keeps the narrative of breadwinning - but also embraces fathers who dearly care for their families. Sadly, men who are carewinners are often inhibited to express their feelings as a carer. Danusia argues that workplaces have an opportunity to disassemble these stereotypes; for example, by making sure that part-time and flexible working is targeting men as well as women.
We wrap with Danusia by asking for her final thoughts. Danusia says she believes progressive workplaces have the opportunity to revolutionise domestic life by considering the home lives of their people. There needs to be an understanding that work and home life are linked - which she believes is the key to having a happy and motivated workforce.
Danusia’s top tip is simple: have those difficult conversations. Talk with your partner and analyse your household responsibilities - and involve your children too!
Ep.83 - Parenthood Diaries: Children with additional needs
Key Learning Points:
1.The challenges faced by parents of neurodivergent children in school
2.How seeking a diagnosis for a neurodivergent child can affect a parent at work
3.The support that parents need from their employers
Today on the Risky Mix, we welcome back Rebekah Bostan and Eilish Jamieson! Rebekah is Director of Research & Insight at InsTech and Eilish is an Executive Coach & Board Advisor. Both will share their experience raising neurodivergent children, including their journeys to gaining diagnosis, their challenges navigating the education system, parental mental health and the support they may require from employers. Thank you for being so open and honest with us, ladies!
A big thanks to our series partners, Genasys and The Camelot Network, for enabling this to happen!
We first ask Eilish and Rebekah to tell us about their family setup. Eilish explains how she is a mum of three, where her middle child has autism, ADHD and dyslexia. For a while, her family normalised her son’s ‘character traits’, believing he had a ‘fiery’ personality and embraced it. Once he went into secondary school, it became apparent that her son was struggling. He saw the word in ‘black-and-white terms’ but was also highly intelligent and ahead of his peers. Eilish tells us she went through the private healthcare route to gain a diagnosis. Eilish also tells us that, although she thought she had worked with diverse teams before, she knew nothing about neurodiversity because, as she admits, she ‘didn’t have to’.
Rebekah explains how her experience was different; her family has a long history of neurodivergence. She is a mum of two; a 13-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son. Her son was diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia - which didn’t come as a shock. Yet what shocked Rebekah was how schools treated neurodivergence. Rebekah explains that she brought in private tuition to help his education which put a financial strain on her family. Rebekah also explains that seeking government help and the associated paperwork adds additional stress. In that context, Rebekah says it’s no wonder that over 75% of parents with neurodivergent children struggle with their mental health. Eilish tells us that we often see statistics released about women leaving the workplace due to ‘childcaring responsibilities’, yet there’s never a definition of exactly why this is. She tells us that neurodivergent children often have more demands on parents’ time and as such, having a community is incredibly important so she encourages parents to find support groups online.
We also ask Eilish and Rebekah what change they would like to see from employers. Eilish tells us that workplaces are far more aware of parents’ challenges and special educational needs than ever before but often wait until parents reach a crisis point where they can’t sustain their work hours. At that point, most organisations are supportive but Eilish insists that it should never get to that point. She praises employee assistance programmes, so that children get access to professional support, but acknowledges there is still a way to go. Rebekah tells us that her main points of stress came from assessing her child’s needs, the diagnosis and behavioural issues. At all of these points, Rebekah needed time away from work and flexibility in working hours. Her previous employer gave her what she needed and she stayed for 14 years.
Eilish also pointed out these resources for finding support and advice:
IPSEA - works with parents to understand their rights and how to get their families the support they needFor business:
Neurodiversity In BusinessGAINMade By Dyslexia
Ep.82 - Parenthood Diaries: Blended families
Key Learning Points:
1.How employers can support workers in blended families
2.What a ‘blended family’ looks like
3.How rigid working environments can impair employees’ performance
Welcome back to the Risky Mix! In this episode, we welcome newlyweds Sam (a former Risky Mix guest) and Jennie, who are here to talk about the challenges and joys of their ‘blended’ family. Sam is the Founder & CEO of Stella Insurance and Founder & Chair at Freedom Services Group. Jennie also had a big job in the city but is now the Creator & Author of a successful children’s book and expanding brand, Howie Blend, which aims to promote diversity through featuring various forms of blended families!
A big thanks to our series partners, Genasys and The Camelot Network, for enabling this to happen!
We start by asking Sam and Jennie what their ‘blended’ family looks like. Sam explains that she was previously married and had two kids, Frankie and Harry. After she divorced, she joined Tinder and found it both ‘terrifying and enlightening’ but ultimately met her other half on the platform. Sam came as a ‘package deal’ for Jennie, as she already had kids - making their unit a ‘blended family’ - where two separate families come together. The fact that they were an LGBT+ couple added an extra layer of ‘greatness’! They both explain how they are also adding to their family via IVF.
We then ask Sam and Jennie what it’s like living in a blended family. Jennie first explains that their family isn’t as divided as it might seem; they don’t use labels like ‘step-parents’ and ‘step-siblings’ - their kids call them their ‘mums’ and nothing else. ‘We are one unit, one family’. We then ask how Sam splits her childcare responsibilities. Sam explains how she has a 50/50 custody split, which has worked well for her and Jennie. Her workplace advocates for flexible working, so she scales her work according to when her kids are with her. Jennie tells us that it can be difficult to be separated, but they still find the ‘joy in every circumstance’; they maximise time away from their kids by spending it together.
Raj then asks whether being part of a blended family adds another level of complexity at work. Sam explains how it does, but other people in her workplace - including several single mums - are in similar situations. Her companies have flexible working policies in place which lets parents like her work around their childcare requirements, but it’s important that they establish good communication first. For example, Sam learnt that colleagues abroad preferred to schedule meetings later at night and leave their early evenings free for their families. She says that many people go through personal issues, so ‘trying to parent and be good at your job’ at the same time can be ‘psychologically jarring’ - making it difficult for people to perform at their best. ‘If you give that flexibility to people, they give it back in dividends.’
Katie also asks what employers should do to support people. Sam talks about how her company brought in a psychologist to work on ‘emotional contracting’ and understanding where people’s boundaries lie. Sam explains that many people at work often lack ‘professional intimacy’; if you’re trying to create high-performing teams, people have to understand each team member, how they work together and what their boundaries are. Often, situations arise where someone is completely inflexible due to their family situation - but unless people trust each other and communicate properly, team members and bosses can feel let down. Raj agrees and says that there is often a culture in corporate environments where anything outside of work is not talked about - a toxic culture which becomes prevalent. Sam also agrees; she has worked with people who have been but has supported them through those times and ‘have come out on the other side and had lots of success’.
Ep.81 - Parenthood Diaries: The challenges of single parenthood
Key Learning Points:
1.The challenges faced by working parents as they juggle being a parent and having a career
2.What employers can do to help support working single parents
3.The need for employers to plan for the impacts of their policy changes to ensure the policy works in practice
In this episode, we speak to two single working parents, Sonya and Amanda, about juggling life as single, working parents. Sonya wears multiple professional 'hats' as a Board Advisor, Accredited Coach and Insights Discovery Practitioner and Amanda has recently joined Element Materials Technology as their Global Senior Manager for ESG.
We begin by asking Amanda and Sonya to talk about their experiences as working parents - from having kids to getting divorced and their relationship with their employers during this time. Sonya explains that she is a mum of two and step-mum to another two, all of whom are now grown up. She tells us how after her divorce she felt the need to fight for promotion to earn more money and support her children as much as she could. Amanda, who is mum to a little boy called Harvey, left a life in Switzerland after her divorce and moved back to the UK. She had to adjust to the lack of flexibility in childcare services and juggling working full-time as well as commuting early to pick up her son. Amanda goes on to talk about how the opening hours of nurseries are much shorter in the UK than in Switzerland, making it much harder to fit her long working hours around the care of her child.
Sonya then tells us that she couldn’t afford childcare, so, instead, had to rely on lots of help from friends and family. She explains how she suffered from years of mum guilt as a working parent, especially as she missed many school events such as sports day and parents' evenings. She explained that the teachers and other parents at the school barely knew who she was, which was challenging. Sonya speaks about how she was a part of a toxic and inflexible working environment, where, for example, she couldn’t take a day off to pick her sick child up from school and take care of him, she had to drop him off to her mum’s and head right back into work.
We go on to ask them both about what employers can do to better support single working parents. Sonya talks about how many companies have policies in place, such as allowing their staff five emergency days, but that they don’t often plan well for the operational and financial implications of these policies, meaning they don’t work in practice. In fact, employees can be left feeling unable to activate them for fear of repercussion. Essentially, allowing employees greater flexibility requires planning and infrastructure that goes beyond the policy alone. For example, if a business wants to give all of their employees time off for parents' evenings and school plays, then they probably need to hire more people to cover that. She then talks about how senior roles should lead by example; if you have a sports day to attend then mark it in your calendar as exactly that.
Reflecting on being single parents, they both go on to say that it’s about balance and give-and-take between work and personal life, you have to be realistic about your expectations and that goes for both parties involved. They also emphasise the importance of having clear boundaries in all areas of your life.
Finally, we ask both Sonya and Amanda for their top parenting tips. Amanda says ‘be present’ when you are spending time with your children: do it with intent and fully engage with the activity, and the same goes for work. Sonya tells us ‘don’t beat yourself up’. You are still teaching your children valuable life lessons through working full time.
Ep.80 - Parenthood Diaries: Sharing the caring
Key Learning Points:
1.How different workplace policies can support working parents returning to work and sharing responsibilities
2.The importance of challenging societal norms for childcare and work and doing what is best for your family
3.How leaders setting an example as a working parent can make cultural change happen at work
In this episode of The Parenthood Diaries, we speak to new parents André and Nikita Symes about the challenges of juggling parenting and work and how employers can help. André is co-CEO of our series partner, Genasys, and Nikita is Ops Manager at Carebit.
We begin by asking André and Nikita what things were like when they were expecting their baby, Seb. They both explain how they were excited but daunted, realising that things would be changing in their lives. Yet they also faced people questioning how they would cope with a baby, adding to their collective anxiety. None of their family members lives in the UK; some asked ‘how are you going to do it without “a village”?’
As a working mum, Nikita says that she faced judgement from many during and after her pregnancy, driving a feeling of guilt: ‘...society needs to stop telling us what to do with our time’. In this regard, André believed the lockdowns helped ‘rip open what the “norm” was with society at work’. In a normal office, he would never have brought baby Seb into his boardroom; yet in 2020, everyone had to look after their children at home. He says this sense of normalisation created empathy amongst parents - a step towards encouraging shared parental responsibility.
André then recounts that, unlike Nikita’s experience, becoming a Dad was seen as ‘cool’ despite his ‘minimal contribution’ during pregnancy and birth! Yet he still felt pressure from the world of work, a ‘general sense that you are the boss, setting the example…’. And so he did: after Seb was born he brought him along, sitting him on his lap into his meetings, which didn’t bother his colleagues at all. André tells us he feared empathy would be confused for weakness. But in fact, his team saw confidence and a good role model.
André and Nikita also talk about full-time childcare and its prohibitive cost - which can be around £2,500 a month per child in London. André says this ‘cuts people off at the knees’, forcing some to stay at home and often resulting in women losing progression in their careers. Nikita says that whilst being a stay-at-home mum may be the ‘norm’, it doesn’t always make sense. She says that some companies offer flexible hours or stagger return to work back up to full-time hours, which can keep critical experience in organisations - allowing retention of ‘a workforce that has been there a while and is loyal…just working in a different way.’ Nikita thus urges organisations to think outside the box and look at these kinds of alternatives.
Katie then asks André and Nikita what employers can do to help. André says he wants to see the option of later paternity leave, so that Dads can create a bond with their children when they are a little bit older. He also wants to see empathy towards Dads with responsibility during working hours and the flexibility that goes with it - other Dads shouldn’t frown upon others for helping out with parenting. For example, André’s team at Genasys were told to ‘work when they need to’ on flexible hours - to great results.
Finally, we ask both André and Nikita to give us their closing top parenting tips. Nikita tells us that, as ‘your child’s first teacher and role model’, it’s really important to take care of yourself: ‘...how you treat yourself will be how your child treats themselves one day.’. André says that it would be tough to follow that one up! Nevertheless, he reminds us that in the more challenging moments ‘it will be ok… the sun will rise tomorrow…have patience and empathy and things will work themselves out’.
Inspiring & honest , with a bit of girl power too !!!
The podcasts are interesting, relevant & well worth a Listen 😃
So honest and real!!!
I’m absolutely loving this podcast. As a women working in the insurance industry this really resonates with me and so nice to hear other women facing the same challenges/opportunities as me. Please keep more episodes coming 😊
This podcast is a game changer.
Interesting, uplifting, empowering and informative... as a young woman starting a new career in the Insurance Industry, this podcast has been so incredibly valuable for me, and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough!