EY introduces paid leave for domestic abuse victims

18 January 2019 Consultancy.uk

Big Four professional services firm EY has introduced a series of policies aimed at aiding members of staff who are the victims of domestic abuse. Staff across the UK will now receive paid leave for domestic abuse, as well as access to counselling.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in the year ending March 2018, an estimated 2 million adults aged 16 to 59 years had experienced some form of domestic abuse. This saw 1.3 million women and 695,000 men impacted by domestic abuse, while data revealed police made 225,714 arrests for domestic abuse-related offences. This equates to 38 arrests per 100 domestic abuse-related crimes recorded, while the police recorded 599,549 domestic abuse-related crimes in the same year, an increase of 23% from 2017’s figures.

Over the course of a lifetime, meanwhile, a quarter of all women, and a sixth of all men currently experience domestic abuse in the UK. One aspect often overlooked when discussing this troubling societal issue is that three in every four of those victims are targeted at work. Despite the continued importance of the matter, analysis released by the Everyone’s Business campaign recently found that only 5% of businesses have a domestic abuse policy in place.

EY introduces paid leave for domestic abuse victims

In a bid to place greater impetus on companies to do their part in the fight against domestic abuse, Big Four firm EY has introduced a new range of policies to help victims at its firm. Those suffering domestic abuse are now entitled to a week of special paid leave as part of the launch of a domestic abuse pack of measures available for the firm’s 14,500 UK staff.

Other aspects of the pack include access to an independent domestic violence advisor and a counselling service for employees. EY has also introduced accredited training for key people within the business, which the firm hopes will assist in the identification and support of people who may need help.

Commenting on the development, Justine Campbell, EY’s Managing Partner for Talent, said, “We know that the workplace can often be considered a safe place for those affected by abuse at home, which is why it is so important for employers to create a supportive environment with access to professional help. By launching a domestic abuse guide with tools and resources provided by Everyone’s Business, we hope to pave the way for other employers and to help ensure those affected by domestic abuse get the help they need.”

The pack is supported by a new campaign aimed at encouraging employers to support employees who are affected by domestic abuse. Everyone’s Business is a cross-partnership programme, with members including Hestia, Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse, The Corporate Alliance, Surviving Economic Abuse, Bulbshare, TecSOS, Women’s Trust, and Cardiff Women’s Aid.

Related: Deloitte, KPMG and PwC reveal UK Partners fired for inappropriate behaviour.


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Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

17 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Soft skills matter in the workplace just as much as technical expertise, writes Samantha Caine, Managing Director of Business Linked Teams.

For too long technical expertise has been seen as the marker of a strong candidate for development into a sales or leadership position. Sales and leadership candidates are tasked with demonstrating a diverse and wide-ranging set of technical skills, yet their aptitude in these technical skills or ‘hard skills’ cannot signify great leadership potential. This is why a healthy balance of soft skills and technical ability is required. 

So what exactly is the difference between technical skills and soft skills? In engineering, it’s crucial to demonstrate knowledge of physics as well as a strong grasp on mathematical equations. Yet, in any industry, it’s important for leaders to be able to interact with other people effectively with soft skills like communication, empathy and adaptability. 

Business Linked Team’s 2018 study into internal leadership development revealed that 69% of large organisations are prioritising the identification and development of future leaders from within the workforce. As more and more organisations begin to invest in sales or leadership development within their existing workforces, more focus needs to be placed on ensuring the right soft skills are in place. 

With those soft skills in place throughout the workforce, the business will benefit from a wider pool of potential leaders developing under their noses, and it should be the same where sales candidates are concerned. 

It’s not just about easier access to ideal candidates for these positions without the rigmarole of recruiting from outside of the organisation. The leadership development study also found that 89% of HR decision makers say succession planning has become a top priority. Those currently serving in leadership positions can’t lead forever and the same goes for those generating sales for the business.

Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

From people leaving for new opportunities or retirement, to people simply stepping aside to focus on other areas of the business, successful leaders and salespeople require experienced and capable successors that will be ready and able to confidently step into their shoes and pick up the mantle without the business experiencing any lapse in performance.

Soft skills make stronger candidates

When it comes to the soft skills required, a strong leader must be able to manage through clear communication and effective time management, coaching and goal setting. They must be able to demonstrate empathy and empower their teams to be successful, productive and fully engaged. And beyond simply giving direction, they must also be able to take direction from those above them and cascade the business strategy down through their teams. 

A strong sales candidate must possess the ability to communicate value to the customer, negotiate well and protect margin or the ability to increase the scope of a particular sales opportunity. 

With the relevant soft skills in place, the business will benefit from increased productivity, greater agility against changing market conditions and greater transparency. In turn, this will provide visibility on issues and inefficiencies while removing opportunity for miscommunication. All of this can transform the culture of a department, improving employee satisfaction and reducing staff turnover. 

Ultimately, developing leadership or sales candidates will require the business to strike the right balance between technical skills and soft skills, and this requires an effective and sustained learning journey.

A balanced learning journey

Facilitating and supporting the development of leadership and sales is best achieved by establishing training groups. By cultivating training groups, businesses are creating talent pools that will inspire and support each other on the learning journey. However, personal goals and learning objectives must be defined for each individual based on their own existing skillsets and the skills that each individual needs to develop. 

With the emergence of e-learning, businesses recognise the value of online-based learning activities, yet many make the mistake of opting for one-size-fits-all solutions which are solely focused on self-study. A development solution will only deliver true return on investment if it combines e-learning activities with group learning activities that provide opportunity for shared experiences and support.

A blended learning solution that combines self-study and face-to-face group learning activities will aid strong development of the talent pool through shared experiences. Through these shared experiences, those undergoing the training will organically develop a support network that supports the development of the group as much as it supports the development of each individual. 

The blended learning approach is supported by one of the seven principles of human learning that socially supported interactions aid the individual development of expertise, metacognitive skills, and formation of the learner’s sense of self. The strongest opportunities for development can be unlocked by blending workshops with online activities such as virtual sessions, peer coaching, self-study, online games and business simulations. But it’s crucial to provide a blend of one-to-one and group sessions too.

Beyond delivering a better learning outcome for the employee, the blended learning approach allows organisations to adapt their training quickly and easily to shifting business demands in an ever-changing landscape.