For the past three years, Citigroup has run training workshops for new and expectant mums.
That programme has gone well, and we will continue to work in that area. But as we move into 2008-09, our employees are most likely to be either dual income parents or, with this generation, families where the dads are expected to - and want to - be much more involved with the children.
While we've focused on maternity, there has been a silence about fathers, and we wanted to do something to make them feel that this is a 'pro-dad' culture.
With Talking Talent, who we work with on our maternity programme, we decided to put together a workshop for new and expectant dads. We piloted it in June this year, as part of our diversity week. It was a two-tier project, with 24 participants.
New fathers tend to be less connected and informed than new mothers. They lack the support groups, information and magazines that are available for mums. It was great for us as an employer to be able to gather these men together to talk about things that have traditionally been seen as the domain of the mother, such as childcare provision and vouchers.
We were able to put some good quality basic information into their hands.
We provided them with a forum, where we found that new dads bond just as quickly and just as well as new mums. I wasn't really expecting that - especially in our industry, which is pretty hard-nosed. But they showed a real delight in sharing stories of sleepless nights.
There was a genuine camaraderie in the room, with the men discussing how the birth would go, and their fears about what kind of fathers they would be.
I wasn't sure whether this scheme would work well with a group of bankers, but it did - brilliantly. We gave those men space to think about the potential challenges around working in a demanding industry while also trying to be the best they can be at home.
The workshop is now part of our parental support suite. In a tough economic environment, anything that can give us the edge is worth it.
Why it worked...
- We thought creatively
- We began with the basics
- We targeted employees' needs.