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Case Study - Parents@Sky


I founded Sky’s parenting network in 2013. It came from a desire one morning about 9 months after returning from maternity leave to connect with others who knew what it was like to work for Sky as a parent. I worked in the Strategy team at the time so this was outside my “day job”.


The first step was working out what the options were and which would work for Sky so I researched what other companies were doing and discussed my findings with my network internally and our People team. Next I began putting together a Working Group, recruiting volunteers from across the organisation.


Then came getting buy in. I did this in two stages. First securing support to launch the network on our corporate social networking platform and getting budget for a pilot programme of webinars and coaching workshops. Secondly I used the feedback and growing engagement from employees to pitch the full vision to our CEO. 


Once we had a permanent budget and exec sponsors our focus turned to delivering  the programme. i.e. selecting suppliers, deciding on content, developing a comms plan and so on.


Today the network has c. 1500 members. They have access to a website, an online forum and annual programme of activity. The programme includes quarterly webinars (on subjects like how to stay visible when you work flexibly), events (both coffee mornings and talks with external speakers on things like how to communicate with your kids) and half day workshops which are run 3 times a year. 


The workshops have 4 groups. One for those about to go on long leave (typically pregnant mums but the workshops are gender neutral), one for this during their long leave, one for those recently returning and one for those about to take short leave (typically, but not always, dads). 


We measured feedback regularly and were able to show for example a significant positive increase in ownership such as how equipped they felt to have the necessary conversations and how they could be proactive in making their transition successful.  This feedback was key in securing ongoing funding and the network is now used in recruitment materials.

The Parents@Sky team

"Catherine has a true passion to support working parents and women in the workplace.  Her experience enables a great understanding of what it means to be part of a challenging organisation and she is able to determine what approach is required to make change happen.  She demonstrates strong leadership, direction and ownership in all that she does, and she has an amazing style which brings everyone along with her on the journey.  Catherine’s ability to story-tell and create a vision is what sets her apart from the rest."

Clare Coleman, Programme Director, Sky Media, and Co-Chair, Parents@Sky

Case Study - Women in Leadership


I co-founded Sky's Women in Leadership initiative in 2014 along with a group of a small senior team of others who felt equally passionate.  We realised early on that aiming for anything less than a 50/50 gender split at our senior leadership level just didn't feel right so that became our ambition.


Once we'd established that vision, the next step was to establish our governance and gather data - both in terms of being clear on our current position (which was a third of the 400 or so roles so a strong foundation) and finding the evidence to back up our gut instincts on why this was the case. 

So we ran an anonymous survey of our top 500, in depth interviewed 20 and also ran an event with our Exec team and their DR's. The key take aways were a perceived lack of formal mentoring and sponsorship for women, their own self-limiting beliefs and the challenge of balancing work and home.

We used this to build a comprehensive plan of action. This had three key parts:

  • Firstly we looked at recruitment: optimising job descriptions and adverts to minimise the risk of women not even applying in the first place; putting in place 50:50 gender balanced shortlists for all appointments to CEO-4; and providing unconscious bias training for hiring managers

  • Secondly we focussed on progression: we designed the Women in Leadership Sponsorship & Development Programme. After an initial pilot we extended it to over 120 women. It provides them with a senior sponsor who advocates for them and helps them identify their next move as well as tailored training events.

  • Thirdly we looked at how we could support retention: including raising awareness of our six months fully paid parental leave and at that stage fledgling Parents@Sky network.

The initiative became so successful one of the team took it on full time to implement the plan and extend it to include additional a focus on technology roles. 

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