Hatch Operations Director, Philippa Frankl said:
“We aim to be a truly flexible employer and to recognise and respond to every team members’ unique needs. We aim to create a team culture where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.”
Here at Hatch, we try to make the work environment equitable for all, and encourage discussion to improve areas that are currently lacking.
We spoke to parents in our team to learn more about their experiences, as well as ask for their advice for fellow parents, colleagues, and employers to facilitate balancing caring and working responsibilities.
Brenda Kola: Mother, Aunty, and our Incubator Programme Manager
“As women there’s this expectation that we need to do it all. I’m not ashamed to say that I am not here to do it all. When I struggle, I struggle, which is why community is important.”
Brenda loves to be present for her toddler as she explores the world, loving the small adventures they go on.
She has recently been taking care of her twin nephews from time to time as well, to help support their mother since their father’s recent cancer diagnosis.
The cost of living, and more specifically, caring, has made it impossible for Brenda to take less time at work to be fully present for the children in her care.
According to a Guardian survey last year, 92% of parents’ standard of living has been affected by childcare costs. This comes to no surprise when considering that the UK ranks third in the world for the most expensive childcare, which ultimately results in a disincentive for parents to work.
“Men aren’t expected to care.”
This balancing act is made more difficult by the societal imbalance placed on parents at work. While Brenda is offered full flexibility with her work at Hatch, her partner is required to go into the office at least twice a week, so only she can care for their daughter on those days.
Brenda encourages employers and managers to recognise the value parents can bring to the workplace, with new skills that can be applied to their role. She would welcome the introduction of stipends to help cover caring expenses, which would give parents the opportunity to be fully present for both roles in their life.
Brenda has found Hatch to be very emotionally supportive during her journey as a mother, and with full flexibility to hours she can start and finish earlier to make balancing work and childcare more manageable.
Deryl Thatcher: Mother, and our Head of Corporate Partnerships
“I’m supported with flexible working and being able to work from home. Hatch is pretty incredible in this.”
Deryl was a single parent to her daughter for many years, without the father or her family as means of support which made progressing in her career extremely difficult. She is now also mother to young twin boys.
“Having twins in my forties was a bit of a shock!”
Unfortunately, like many other women in her cicumstances, Deryl has experienced the gendered effects of being a mother in her previous work place.
“I remember there was a more senior role going in my previous workplace and everyone was saying “You’d be great at that”. I was put off when the CEO said to me “Yeah, but Deryl, I’d want you in the office at 8am every morning.” That was impossible at the time, so I stayed in my role for a further 10 years.”
Whilst many organisations offer flexible hours following the pandemic as people can work from home, which bring many positives, there can be certain barriers such as the timings of meetings that reduce this flexibility.
“A lot of parents start early or finish later so that they can do the nursery or school drop offs. Be mindful of needs at every step of the parenting process.”
Often parents need to respond to different needs at the drop of a hat, so being considerate to this need for true flexibility, such as by recording meetings or prioritising who really needs to attend them, can be extremely helpful.
Deryl has found Hatch to be particularly supportive with flexible working and during the pandemic, when she was put on furlough, which, although she didn’t much enjoy it, was “invaluable as a carer”.
Bevis Man: Father, and our Head of Marketing and Communications
“Seeing how he has an impact on other people and the wonder and curiosity around everything is lovely!”
Bevis loves to watch his toddler son grow, and see the world through his eyes. Bevis balances work and caring responsibilities in teamwork with his wife. Being parents and working full time is a “train that can’t stop.”
He lists a main struggle as a parent being finding the time to oneself, for hobbies, interests.
“It’s very easy to lose a lot of the things that make you you.”
To address the societal imbalance in caring responsibilities, he’d love to see all organisations offer the option for split parental leave as the norm, and demonstrate the value of their staff by offering more than statutory pay, whether that’s financially, or through time away from work.
Of the two-week statutory paternal leave, Bevis said:
“By default, it reinforces the imbalance and societal inequality right from the start, that caring for the baby is a woman’s role, not a man’s, despite whatever intentions you as a parenting unit have.”
His advice for employers and colleagues working with new parents is to be mindful of the life changing event of having a child, and the impact it can have on their work.
“That switch between one day on parental leave and the next in a full time job with a baby is really really hard, and unless you’re a parent yourself, it can be harder to empathise, and that’s coming from the person who didn’t give birth.”
Bevis has had very open conversations with Hatch on how he can best receive support. For example, as his wife works longer hours, Bevis currently works compressed hours so that he may best support his family.
Rebekah Capon: Mother, Aunty, Daughter, and our Director of Development
“It’s incredibly tough to see someone you love and has always been strong and been there to care for you unable to carry out basic tasks that we all take for granted.”
Rebekah is mother to two young children and has further caring responsibilities for her niece and nephews since her brother in law’s passing, and her father due to multiple strokes in the past year.
Although supporting her father comes with emotional and practical challenges, Rebekah cherishes the time she has with him, enjoying the moments where they talk and reminisce together.
She has found that out of the tragic family situation, they have all become a closer family unit.
“I think knowing when to ask for help, and being confident to communicate your support needs is really important.”
To support those with caring responsibilities, Rebekah encourages open conversations as everyone’s situation is different.
She would also like to see four day working weeks be a reality for all employees, especially due to the fact that it gives parents one day that’s neither revolved around work or their children. Four day working weeks could also help alleviate the cost of living crisis, thinktank, Autonomy, claims.
“There is a genuine culture at Hatch of inclusivity, authenticity and asking for help and this makes it much easier to care for my family while working full time.”
Rebekah has found Hatch to be very supportive through her caring duties, never feeling like she had to prioritise her job over her family.
Gender imbalance is seen in all streams of society, yet it is particularly evident with people with caring responsibilities, as proven by recent research which revealed that mothers lost their jobs at three times the rate of fathers during the pandemic.
Mothers are considered to be de facto primary carers which regularly has an impact on their careers, whether that be the loss of their jobs in times of crisis, being passed on promotions, or their maternity leave resulting in a ‘black mark’ on their CV.
Here at Hatch, we know that it is by listening and responding to needs that we may grow to be a truly equitable organisation.
We recently overhauled all our people policies and integrated feedback from across the team to prioritise flexible working, compressed hours and parental leave policies that support our people’s work and home life balance. As a young and growing organisation we know we could always do more and will continue to listen and adapt in the coming months and years.