Accenture provides employees shared parental leave

28 October 2015

Following the UK’s shared parental legislation, sharing the first year of life with the new born while still in work is no longer only possible for mothers. The new law provides partners the possibility of splitting responsibility while meeting the criteria for government maternity funding. Accenture has seen the benefits of moving fast and created a means for parents at all levels of the organisation to support their child, while leaving the door open for them to return to their career after the leave has ended.

Since 5 April 2015, the UK Government’s shared parental legislation came into effect. The legislation provides families with the possibility of splitting the Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) between both parents. The legislation, among others, provides the possibility of sharing the responsibility of supporting a born or adopted child through their first year of life.

Popularity for the policy is growing according to a recent survey by My Family Care. The research shows that 43% of companies are enhancing their shared parental leave policies in line with maternity benefits, while 33% are considering such policies if it is found that they have a positive effect. Only a small 12% say that they are not planning to implement enhanced benefits in the foreseeable future.

UK Government shared parental legislation

Shared responsibility among the responsible
Although the policy has so far seen modest use, not every segment of the working world has sought to make use of the new opportunity. A majority of HR directors (60%) report that that they have had negligible shared parental leave requests. The biggest barrier, according to the survey, is a culture perception within businesses that discriminates against those that take an extended period off. 41% says that the risk to a person’s career outcome is the biggest obstacle.

Accenture UK & Ireland HR Director Sam Clark, remarks in an interview to HR Magazine that the cultural barrier is likely to change over the coming period as both businesses and society as a whole grasp the benefit that shared parent leave has for the well-being of families. “It will undoubtedly take time for the cultural change that SPL brings to be fully felt as attitudes about parental leave shift and awareness increases,” she says. “The return of early SPL adopters to work is likely to be a turning point as other employees hear about their positive experiences. If businesses communicate the real life benefits effectively more of their staff are likely to consider SPL as a viable option.”

To change the pervading culture within businesses, Clark says that HR directors need to develop and tailor polices based on input from the relevant stakeholders: existing parents, new parents or senior management. The new policy will then meet the expectation and requirements of parent and businesses alike, with the policy clearly disseminated to all relevant stakeholders. “New fathers and mothers expect an equal chance to be involved in the upbringing of their children, meaning an effective shared parental leave offering will be a powerful tool in the battle to attract and retain the best talent,” Clark concludes.

Accenture provides employees shared parental leave

Accenture ahead of the game
The new policy has worked well for Accenture. Mark Smith, an 18 year veteran at Accenture and now a Managing Director, writes that the firm has been remarkably quick to implement the policy. The consulting firm now provides staff with up to 30 weeks (on full pay and benefits), plus two weeks’ standard paternity leave. The policy also allows staff to mix and match. Smith opted to take two weeks at the start, go back to work for five weeks, before spending the rest of the year with his new born son. The policy allows him to attend various work functions so that he ‘keeps in touch’ with what is happening to make the transition between parenting and work easier.

“[To] have the opportunity to be part of your child’s life in the early days – when they change so quickly – is amazing. I love being able to attend things like vaccination appointments, gym classes and the NCT group. I get to feed Louis and see him lift his head for the first time,” Smith reflects. On the future of the policy he remarks that, “I do think there’s a lot of respect out there for men who have taken that leap to spend time with their children. It’s a brave new world – and when I talk to other fathers they say they wish they could have spent that time with their child.”



Women remain underrepresented in UK's hospitality industry leadership

12 April 2019

Female engagement at the top level of the UK hospitality industry is still lagging, with the vast majority of decision-making roles continue to be held by men. Only 7% of the industry’s FTSE 350 CEOs are women; however, the pay gap in hospitality and leisure is far better than in other industries, at a median of approximately 7%.

The hospitality, travel and leisure (HTL) sector is one of the UK’s largest employers, with 3.2 million people working in its segments. Despite a poor 2018 in terms of tightening consumer spending, the industry is still one of the top sectors in terms of economic activity, hitting £130 billion last year – besting the UK’s automotive, pharmaceutical and aeronautical sectors’ combined activities.

While the industry is one of the country’s largest employers, it still faces considerable issues around diversity at the top. New analysis from PwC has explored the matter, as well what initiatives the industry has engaged to open up its top ranks to a more diverse background.

Female representation at board level for UK companies and HTLs

According to a survey of CEOs, Chairs or HR Directors of over 100 of the most significant leisure businesses across the UK, the hospitality industry has a relatively male-dominated top level. This lags behind the FTSE 100, where companies have female board level representation at 32.2%. Meanwhile, the figure for the combined executive committee and direct reports stands at 28%. This is well above FTSE 250 levels, where female board level representation stands at 22.4% and executive committee & direct reports stand at 27.8%.

For the hospitality industry as a whole, board level representation came in at 23.6%, with FTSE 350 for the industry performing slightly better at 25.1%, while non-listed companies performed considerably worse at 18.2%. The firm notes that the figures hide that while some companies are making strides to improve equality, others are not moving forward – with the positive result reflecting more often the good work of some, while others are not taking the issue seriously in their agenda setting.

Blind spot

The study states, however, that while the overall numbers are relatively strong, the industry has a number of acute weaknesses. These include CEO numbers, with only 7% of HTL FTSE 350 companies helmed by women and 11% of non-listed companies led by female CEOs. Meanwhile, female chairs at FTSE 350 companies for the sector stand at zero. In terms of wider diversity representation, only 1 in 33 leaders at industry companies is from a BAME background.

Pay gap for HTL and hospitality

The report noted discrepancies between FTSE 100 companies and FTSE 250 in terms of improving the number of women at executive level. The majority have met the Hampton-Alexander Review target of 33% women at board level, up from around 25% in 2016. However, the remaining ~40% are not on target, and are unlikely to meet the target by 2020. A similar trend is noted when it comes to executive committee and direct reporting numbers.

Jon Terry, Diversity & Inclusion Consulting Leader at PwC, said, "To make real progress in diversity and inclusion, businesses need to elevate it onto the CEO’s agenda and align diversity & inclusion strategy to the fundamentals of the business."

Tracking progress FTSE 250 level

However, one area where hospitality travel and leisure companies are outperforming other companies in the wider UK economy, is the mean and median pay gap between men and women. PwC found that the median of the wider UK economy comes is approximately 14% – with upper quartile companies noted for a gap of low 20%, and lower quartile companies noted for differences of around 2%.

The median pay gap for HTL comes in at well below 7%, with the median close to parity. There are considerable differences, however, with hospitality at 7%, while travel comes in considerably higher, at 22%. The latter figure reflects fewer women in higher paid pilot and technical positions within the industry.