How important is a clear vision?
I saw an article in Personnel Today and metaphorically jumped for joy. The government is consulting on extending reporting requirements for companies with over 250 employees to include details of parental leave and pay policies.
I think this can only be a good thing. Shining a light on leaders in the field and allowing all to learn from the innovative policies already out there. And enabling both government and business the opportunity to get a clearer understanding of what’s making a real difference. I would argue the same is true for all initiatives to support inclusion. The more transparency the better.
But the other reason for the inner smile was it took me on a personal journey. This was one of the recommendations I made in a submission to the Women & Equalities Committee Inquiry into Fathers and the Workplace (which you can do as an individual or organisation taking an interest). It was one of the first things I did when I was looking at setting up the business. I wanted to share my experiences and it felt good to share my views on not just what I saw was happening but what could be done about it. The smile came partly from thinking I might have made a difference but also having looked back over it realising I still stand by every recommendation I made.
It’s 18 months since I started out and as you would expect my path has been a little different to what I first envisaged. I thought I would be working mostly strategically with clients. In reality, whilst that’s true for some, for others I’ve found they are at a much earlier stage and / or they just want to start somewhere with something more tangible and so I’ve adapted. I’ve gone from talking at industry events to being paid to talk at corporates on subjects like work life balance - not something I ever expected but I’ve found I love it. I’m also working with businesses on things like putting together a programme to support employees through the transition to becoming parents and supporting Line Managers, and getting a better understanding of the barriers to women progressing into leadership roles through surveys and interviews.
What do they all have in common? They all make a difference which was always my main motivation. But throughout all of this my vision has remained the same. Do whatever I can to help working parents and women in leadership reach their full potential. Get us to a world where flexibility is the norm - whether you have children or not. Where it's as commonplace to find a man taking extended leave on the birth of a child as it is a woman. Where becoming a parent or being a woman in leadership is universally recognised for the value that can bring to a business.
And having that unwavering goal to look towards has been crucial. It’s kept me going when I’ve had moments where my confidence has taken a hit (which I like to think of as the imposter syndrome on steroids that those who’ve set up their own business will relate to!) And it’s fired me up in moments like this. Or when I meet a new client who “gets it”. And that makes it all worthwhile.
So to my opening question - how important is a clear vision? Whether you’re setting up your own business, or a change programme / diversity & inclusion initiative I think it’s the most important step you will take - so make time for it - you’ll be able to lean on it and get strength from it as your path unveils itself to you. And then you can really love the journey.
My submission to the Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry: