Our networking meeting in October is now an annual event, hosted by KPMG, dedicated to workplace carer networks. This event built on the 2015 event which focused on starting carer networks.
The event was opened by Professor Hilary Thomas, Partner and Chief Medical Adviser, KPMG and was chaired by David Grayson, Professor of Corporate Responsibility, Cranfield School of Management and Chair of Carers UK.
Carers network representatives from member organisations spoke about the challenges and successes they had experienced along the way. For example, Craig Hughes, PwC talked about how by opening out there SPACE (supporting parents & carers and everyone else) network has meant that they are now the largest D & I network in PwC. As carers are often already challenged by their work and caring juggle, having other colleagues in the network to help out with some of the employee engagement and events can be really helpful.
Laura-Jane Gosling, Credit Suisse, spoke about their dedicated carers network (launched around 18 months ago), which meets monthly. Having a senior sponsor has really helped energise their network, and they have also worked with HR Business Partners to create a Managers guide, which includes tips on managing team members who are caring. Again, this senior support and sponsorship has helped Alex Madewell and co-chair Ed Kemp at the Bank of England, to create a ‘carers framework' that brings together the HR policies that can support carers into one place. Alex finds that using social media to promote the work of networks is also useful.
There was a really excellent audience-led discussion covering a range of the issues and challenges, such as how to identify carers, making sure information and support is available when and where it is needed, and how to encourage carers to seek network support - either face to face or online. This is where initiatives such as Carers UK's Workplace Champion volunteer role can help by acting as a conduit of information between Carers UK and the workplace network.
Again, informing and skilling-up line managers on caring and work were identified as essential ingredients to a consistently supportive workplace culture.