Welcome to the Life at FT blog: a place where you can get an inside perspective on our workplace, people and culture.
In this instalment of the Life at FT Blog, we sit down with Elodie O'Rourke and Rebecca Garfinkel the co-chairs of our FT Families employee network. FT Families is an internal community and support group for our employees with caregiving responsibilities. Here they share a little bit about what they do and why it is so important in creating an inclusive workplace.
Tell us a little about FT Families and what you do?
We are an employee network at the FT that represents the silent majority of employees juggling caregiving responsibilities and work, and helping them navigate the challenges this can create on a day-to-day basis. We are calling ourselves FT Families because we not only target parents and those with children, but any colleague with caregiving responsibilities, such as looking after an unwell partner, an ageing parent, an impaired relative/friend/neighbour etc. We used to be called FT Parents, and we decided to rebrand during the pandemic to FT Families, as we felt this was more inclusive and included all people with caregiving responsibilities. FT Families also is more representative as it takes into account the nuances of different types of families and doesn't just focus on the classic nuclear family, but includes single parents, single sex families etc. The group aims to create a sense of community and support across the FT, as well as influence our policies, benefits and ways of working to support our employees and help them balance both their personal and professional lives. By encouraging our leaders and people managers to share their own stories and be open about how they navigate both their family life and careers, it allows people to feel supported and seek advice from those around them.
What is the benefit of having an employee network such as FT Families?
FT families events allow people to hear from others who are also in the same position, we have leaders that role model this behavior. It provides a safe place and one where people feel comfortable enough to share their situations outside of work. It also allows us to give feedback directly to the FT Board and leadership teams about the challenges our employees face and to help put in place benefits, policies and provisions to support with these issues.
How would you describe the FT as an employer to those with caregiving responsibilities?
I would say that flexibility is definitely there for people who need it. Our hybrid working culture has definitely helped improve this even further and people are hugely supportive and understanding of things that crop up when it comes to outside responsibilities.
The FT supports initiatives such as compressed working weeks, flexible hours etc and is very family friendly, you never worry about having to take time off to look after your kids. People are really accommodating if you have to join a meeting and your child is running around in the background! It's a good conversation starter!
We also offer family friendly leave policies, such as our global 20 weeks paid maternity leave and 12 weeks paid paternity leave and shared parental leave, as well as career coaching for people returning from parental leave to help them navigate their way back into the workforce after an extended break.
What project or initiative has your ERG worked on that you are most proud of?
In 2022, we partnered with our peers in another of the FT’s employee networks, FT Access (which is focussed on making the FT more inclusive for people with disabilities) to host sessions with an external expert on the subject of neurodiversity. We linked one of these sessions specifically to support parents with neurodiverse children - and covered subjects such as how to spot the signs your child might be neurodiverse and how to support a child that is. Our employees were able to ask as many questions as they wanted in a safe space and came away from the sessions more informed and educated on the topic.
Linked to this, we also held a panel session with FT colleagues who themselves have a neurodiverse child, where they shared their stories with others across the organisation.
Also, during the pandemic, in the first lockdown of 2020 when schools were closed and a lot of our employees were juggling childcare responsibilities with trying to work from home, we put on a series of educational webinars for the children of FT employees, where experts from across the organisation offered their expertise in relevant subject areas to support with the homeschooling responsibilities lots of parents faced at that point.
What does inclusion at work mean to you?
Inclusion means you can come to work as you, and you will be embraced as you are. We celebrate cultural differences and we capitalise on people’s diverse backgrounds. We love working with a diverse and global community. At the FT there is definitely flexibility to adjust work around your personal needs. We love the fact our newsroom and journalists are also passionate about this topic and that the FT devotes a lot of coverage to talking about the importance of inclusion in a business context.
The FT's values are Ambition, Inclusion, Integrity, Curiosity, Trust and Subscriber Focused. In relation to your role at the FT and within our Employee Networks, which of these values speaks to you most and why?
Inclusion obviously as it is the heart of what we do within our employee networks. But also integrity, as it goes hand in hand with fairness and equal treatment.
To find out more about the FT’s culture and D&I strategy, click here.