Liberal Democrats lead the charge with introduction of Parental Leave and Pay Arrangements (Publication) Bill

We’re thrilled to see the Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Jo Swinson leading a cross-party push to bring a Private Member’s Bill[1] that would require businesses with 250+ staff to be transparent and publish information on their parental leave and maternity/paternity/adoption and shared parental leave pay policies, in a bid to combat maternity discrimination.

A successful return to work after extended leave, be it maternity, paternity, sickness or sabbatical needs careful thought and management from both the employer and employee, and finding the healthy, sustainable balance between work and other commitments can still feel a challenge from both sides. We feel positive that the introduction of this Bill and the publicity it generates will encourage more open and honest relations between organisations and employees, in the quest to ensure that talent is not overlooked, discouraged, nor penalised.

This public Bill, introduced by Swinson in the House of Commons on June 6th 2018, is sponsored by Nicky Morgan, the former Tory cabinet minister, Harriet Harman, David Lammy and Gareth Thomas from the Labour Party, Caroline Lucas, the Green Party’s co-leader, and Alison Thewliss of the SNP. Whilst not part of planned Government legislation, the Bill would be a simple regulatory change that could lead to significant benefits for working parents.

Jill Miller, diversity and inclusion adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, described Swinson’s proposal as an “encouraging move”, adding that “increased transparency about parental leave policies shines a spotlight on an organisation’s offering and could help break the taboo of employees and prospective employees asking about their entitlements, which many are often reluctant to do”.

The introduction of this Bill is one of several significant developments in the last week alone, with the publication of the Treasury Select Committee’s Women in Finance report further reinforcing the need for change around the stigma of flexible working and parental leave to ensure that women are not held back in their careers.

Jessica Chivers, CEO of The Talent Keeper Specialists and author of Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work (Hay House, 2011), says “Clients are always asking us what other organisations are doing in this space. They’re keen for confirmation that they’re not missing anything obvious as well as looking for other best practices they can weave into their policies and practices. Benchmarking will give employers the information they’re looking for and cross-pollinate practices from different sectors.”


[1] Private Members’ Bills – or backbench Bills – are introduced by individual MPs or members of the Lords rather than by the Government. As with other Public Bills their purpose is to change the law as it applies to the general population. Very few Private Members’ Bills become law but, by creating publicity around an issue, they may affect legislation indirectly.

*We would like to give credit for the photo used in this article, but we don’t know where it came from!


We’re hiring – seeking an account director for very flexible PT role

Taken a career break? Love to use your client care skills again? Come and join us…

The Talent Keeper Specialists are on a mission to improve the experience of people preparing to transition in and out of extended leave (maternity, shared parental leave, adoption, sickness and sabbatical).

We’re in growth mode and need another pair of hands to support our CEO in delighting existing clients as well as spotting new opportunities. We’re calling this an account director role but actually, we think it’s more bespoke and interesting than that (we’re up for you telling us what you’d like your title to be).

The Talent Keeper Specialists launched in 2012 and to date we have worked with BlackRock, ITV, the CIPR, Twinings, Boots, Ebay, Enfield Borough Council, Anglia Ruskin University, Veolia and The Law Society of Scotland amongst others. Although we’ve come this far without external account management help, we know with additional talent we’ll go further, faster.

What are we looking for and what can we give you?

The Talent Keeper Specialists are looking for someone who can dedicate 20-25 hours/month to account management and helping us develop the business. The right candidate will help us determine the most impactful activities, scope of the role and how the hours are best distributed across the month. We offer flexibility, home-working, school hours, and home-made cake when you come and work at our place (in St Albans) and are looking for someone on a self-employed basis rather than as an FTE employee. We expect to pay around £18-£20/hour depending on experience.

This will be an interesting, enjoyable role for at least six months. Should we enjoy working together it could roll on and on and become a bigger deeper role. If it’s a shot of mind fodder you’re looking for before getting back into a bigger role we think this opportunity will boost your confidence and make a great proof point for future interviews. Or perhaps it’ll be a starting point for your freelancing career? Either way it’s a great stepping stone.

Why are we seeking someone who’s taken a break?

We believe once a tenacious, client-focussed, bright mind; always a tenacious, client-focussed, bright mind. We know you’ll be energised by the prospect of helping us bring a structured, organised approach to delighting our clients, and helping us bring new ones on board, given how close our mission is to your heart. We’re certain you’ll give us your absolute best.

Who’s our ideal candidate?

We’d love to meet people who have experience in B2B relationship management. Familiarity with HR professionals or experience working with financial services or professional services companies would be a bonus. We need a vivacious, organised, self-starter who’s excited by the challenge of helping us continue to delight existing clients whilst acquiring new ones.

Our ideal candidate will definitely have the attributes we’ve listed under “cake” and maybe the things we’ve listed under “cream,” and if you’ve got the cherry on the top…well…we can’t wait to eat you! Err, meet you!

Cake (essential)

  • Relationship management experience in a commercial setting – and knowledge of relevant tools/frameworks to assist in client management
  • Good listener, enjoys making people feel special and making new connections
  • Tenacious, savvy, good at anticipating client needs
  • Keen eye for spotting commercial opportunities
  • Lover of lists, notebooks, systems and processes
  • Understanding of the world we work in – or a desire to learn about it
  • Equipped to work from home – self-starter who is comfortable working solo, has own laptop/PC and suitable work space

Cream (preferable)

  • Insight into, or direct experience of, working with a small, ambitious business
  • Insight into, or direct experience of, working in or with large organisations
  • Able to work confidently with strong characters (speak up, positively challenge and put ideas forward)

Cherry on the top (amazing but not essential)

  • Social media skills
  • Blogging experience/lover of writing to persuade/inform
  • Knowledge/insight into working with HR professionals and business leaders
  • Lives in or very close to St Albans


Role profile

We want to find someone who’s fired up about working with us. Someone who thinks this is a genuinely cool and enviable role, who believes in what we’re doing and wants to be part of making the world a better place for people returning to work.

You’re the client relations expert so we want to shape the role with you – we don’t know what we don’t know! You’ll be working closely with our CEO and we think the following activities will be involved:

  • Developing a strategy for how we manage our clients
  • Creating a plan for keeping in touch with our ‘top tier’ clients
  • Researching what’s happening in our clients’ worlds
  • Identifying ways to ‘add value’ and delight our clients such as signposting resources/events that might be of interest to our clients to build trust and make them feel special
  • Contributing content suggestions for our newsletters
  • Liaising with clients at key points in a project/programme to make sure everyone has the information they need at the right time
  • Liaising with our associate coach team
  • Producing feedback reports to share with clients at the end of a programme/project/pilot
  • Working with our CEO to identify business development opportunities
  • Creating proposal decks to send to potential clients
  • Suggesting new ways of doing things
  • Keeping a hand on the tiller when our CEO is on holiday/out of the office

This is absolutely not a personal assistant role. We have the brilliant Trish who takes care of scheduling meetings and admin bits and bobs, and she’ll be on hand to support you too.


How do I apply?

Please send us a copy of your CV and up to 300 words or 3 minutes of you talking to camera. Tell us what excites you about working with The Talent Keeper Specialists and what would get us excited about you! E-mail your intro to by Friday 27th April. We’ll let you know whether we’d like to meet you for an informal interview by Friday 4th May. If yes, we’ll be in touch to co-ordinate diaries for an interview w/c 7th May (or week after if that’s proving tricky).

Find out more about us

Have a mosey around the site and see what we’re sharing on Twitter @TalentKeepersUK
Jessica Chivers (founder) and @jesschivers


What we told the Treasury Inquiry on Women and Finance

The average cost of childcare across the UK ranges from £213/week for a registered childminder to £512/week plus tax and NI for nannies, with nurseries sitting in between. In London, our financial centre, the cost rises to £276/week for a childminder, £278/week for a day nursery and £616 plus tax and NI for a nanny (50 hours/week). [Source: Family and Childcare Trust]. This means a family living in London, working full time with one child, without access to free childcare – provided by a grandparent for example – needs to earn a minimum of £14,352 (childminder cost) after tax and the cost of commuting, simply to break even.

Many families take the view that it is better to make the financial sacrifice in the early years in order to keep both careers on track, rather than suffer the huge financial and career penalties that are known to accrue to women who take large chunks of time out. For example, see the work of Mary Gregory and Sarah Connolly.

The financials are only one part of the childcare story though. Women in financial services are often married to men in financial services and herein lies a big problem. Of the hundreds of women we have talked with in financial services who are returning post maternity or a longer career break, many talk about their husbands/partners feeling unable to be as ‘active’ a father as they are a mother. This is because there simply isn’t encouragement for fathers, or men more generally, to work part time or set boundaries about finish times (to collect children from nursery for example) and when they can or can’t travel. This problem becomes more acute the more senior they become and both planned and unplanned (last minute) facetime with clients involving travel (often international) intensifies. We’ve coached many women in financial services who talk about needing to swap roles once they become a mother because they can’t see a way to continue in a ‘demanding’ role and be back in time for when the nursery closes or the nanny needs to leave. “Demanding” is often code for facetime expectations; needing to be able to drop everything for a client at the last minute and work late into the evening if necessary to please the client/win a piece of business. The default setting is that they trade down or switch roles because it’s seemingly unthinkable for their male partner/husband to do so. We believe limits on mothers’ careers in finance will persist until the culture changes such that men in finance are as likely as their female colleagues to:

  • Feel comfortable asking for flexible/part time work options
  • Make requests for flexible working/part-time roles
  • Actually work flexibly/part time
  • Be vocal about constraints such as needing to be at home to relieve the nanny
  • Be the person primarily responsible for thinking about/actioning tasks that relate to the home and children.

Some suggested solutions:

  • A campaign from the Treasury to run alongside or be part of the Women in Finance Charter to encourage men to explore part-time and flexible working possibilities.
  • Individual FS institutions raising awareness of the opportunities and benefits of men working part time and/or flexibility.
  • Individual institutions showcasing senior males who work PT and/or flexibly.
  • Individual institutions gathering data on expectant fathers and encouraging them to take shared parental leave (and paying it at full pay). On this point, also see this helpful article on how employers can increase the number of men taking Shared Parental Leave.

My contribution to this inquiry on behalf of The Talent Keeper Specialists was made in collaboration with Genderbuzz, under whose name this submission appears.

Click here for a full list of submissions.

Client case study – Creating a coaching culture, Enfield Council

The Challenge

case studyEnfield Council is on a mission to transform the way it delivers services because the way people transact in the wider world has changed. Transforming the way people work at the Council was at the heart of the challenge for Head of Organisational Learning & Development, Jo Clemente. Jo talked to us about three key shifts she wanted to make:

  • Colleagues working more independently and make decisions
  • Colleagues being more curious in order to make changes
  • Line managers encouraging and developing staff to find their own solutions.

Coaching Triads

The Solution

The Solution

Enfield Borough Council’s Head of Organisational Development, Jo Clemente, approached The Talent Keeper Specialists to develop a day’s immersion in coaching for line managers that would:

  • Challenge the idea that a directive style of leadership gets the best results.
  • Explain the purpose of coaching conversations and the benefits for team members, line managers and customers.
  • Introduce essential skills and provide a safe place to experiment with them.
  • Provide an opportunity to see coaching in action, be coached and be a coach.
  • Leave participants feeling energised about using the coaching skills outside the training room.

The Outcome

35 Council employees took part in the pilots (and not just the eager beavers who usually put their hands up to be involved) and at the end of the sessions:

  • 100% of participants agreed the content was relevant to them
  • 100% felt actively involved and that they would make use of what they had learned
  • 100% said they would recommend the course to their colleagues.

Along with positive anecdotal feedback these metrics provided a good case for the Council commentto add the course to their broader suite of learning offerings. All managers now have an objective in their PDPs around demonstrating their commitment to moving the Council towards a coaching culture. Attending the course has been a positive starting point for 140 mangers to date:

  • “It provided me with so much more than I thought it would. The most enjoyable and beneficial training I have done in a long time.”
  • “I have already identified specific action points that I want to share and work on with my team.”
  • “I thought the course was presented by a knowledgeable trainer who made the content very relevant to our requirements.”
  • “I found it fascinating to see the difference it made to people when someone takes the time to listen to them. The practice sessions following the learning were really useful.”
  • “A refreshing and most welcome course. Clearly explained and useful to individuals in the workplace. I stayed engaged all day.”

Sustaining the learning

After the day’s immersion participants are invited to attend two “let’s talk coaching” action learning sets, spaced four weeks apart to sustain the learning. It’s a safe space to practice skills, help each other and continue the coaching activity and the aim is that the groups become self-sustaining.

Enfield Borough Council’s Feedback

“The training from Jessica has been extremely well received and were always client_viewoversubscribed.  Mangers have enjoyed learning a new skills and the organization will benefit from the coaching approach to work.  The action learning sets have also been very successful and helped to embed the learning and enable manages to practice their skills in a safe environment.  We are just starting to see the changes, with managers being more confident to use the skills they have learnt and really believing that coaching is the way to help with the huge changes in the council.” Jo Clemente, Head of Organisational Development, Enfield Borough Council.



Thanks to Jo Clemente and Kathryn Lammas from Enfield Borough Council for this case study

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