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Family Friendly Review: identifying and tackling barriers to progression

Written by Eloise Spearman | Client Services Manager


Returning Works is currently helping our client in the energy sector take the next steps on its journey to becoming an employer of choice for returning parents.


Our client’s People Operations Manager approached Returning Works due to concerns that insufficient progress was being made in closing its gender pay gap. The organisation also wanted to understand and address factors that were preventing women – particularly expectant and working parents – from progressing to senior levels.


The solution

Together, we decided that a Family Friendly Review would be the ideal way to identify barriers to participation and progression, while providing a road map of actions to tackle these barriers.


The Family Friendly Review process

During the Review, our specialist consultant worked closely with our client to conduct a deep-dive evaluation of family policies, processes, benefits, training and provision.

Together, we worked through the following steps:


  • Set up meeting – our team met with stakeholders to identify key resources to review.

  • Parental questionnaire – we designed a Parental and Carers Leave questionnaire to obtain anonymous feedback on experiences of family leave.

  • Information gathering – our client then compiled resources including family leave and flexible working policies, gender pay gap data and feedback from its gender/parental networks.

  • Report and presentation – following in-depth analysis of this information, we provided our client with an outline of the findings, including an assessment of whether they were 'compliant', 'best practice' or an 'employer of choice’.

  • Final report – our final report comprised an overview of the scope and evaluation phase, benchmarking data and a tailored action plan for addressing any factors identified that are contributing to our client’s gender pay gap.

  • Next steps meeting – finally, we met with our client to discuss the findings and provide detailed recommendations given in the report.


Outcomes and recommendations

During the Family Friendly Review, we evaluated our client’s family-friendly offering against our framework of competencies - People, Policies, Provision, Processes and Progression – with each of the 25 competencies graded ‘Not met’, ‘Partially met’ or ‘Met’.




The Review identified areas where our client is demonstrating best practice. For example, its Women’s Network is well-established and active, and staff often felt well supported by their line managers. We also highlighted areas for development, including scope for tightening up risk assessments for expectant parents and an inconsistent return to work process.



Next steps for our client

During the feedback stage of the Review, we gave our client a detailed action plan of our recommendations, including enhanced training for line managers, improved career progression tracking and offering parental transition coaching to expectant and returning parents.


Feeling inspired?

Would your organisation benefit from a Family Friendly Review, to identify gaps in your parental provision and help you offer a best-practice experience for your returning parents? Drop us a message and let’s set up a call to get started.

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