To celebrate the launch of Fertility Matters at Work, our co-founder, Natalie Silverman who is also the host of The Fertility Podcast dedicated the final series of 2021 to discuss this topic further.
In this 9 part series, Natalie and her co-host Kate Davies, who is also our Medical Advisor at Fertility Matters at Work and has been delivering training content and support to the corporate world for the last 18 months, spoke to a number of companies about what they were doing to become Fertility Friendly workplaces.
The first episode was a conversation with Channel 4’s 4 Women Network with its founders Navene Alim, a senior lawyer within the corporate legal team at C4 and Landy Slattery, creative director of All 4, Channel 4’s(CH4) on-demand platform. The conversation was around the launch of C4’s Pregnancy Loss Policy that was launched in April 2021.
The next episode focused on the teaching sector as we are gaining a lot of insights about the impact fertility struggles have on specific sectors, in our conversations at Fertility Matters at Work. Teaching is a predominantly female lead sector with over 75% of teachers identifying as female. This episode was in conversation with Caroline Biddle who worked as a secondary school drama teacher for 9 years. Caroline is no longer in a teaching role but is committed to changing the way fertility issues in teaching are managed and as a result, set up her organization – Fertility Issues in Teaching is the first and only organisation to deliver specialist consultancy and training exclusively for schools to raise awareness around the impact on staff experiencing infertility and pregnancy loss and to support schools to recruit and retain the best staff by becoming inclusive, flexible, and equitable, as they move towards fertility friendly workplaces.
Mental health in the workplace as you will know has been high on the agenda for organisations for some time and it has only been heightened during the pandemic, however we are keen to highlight the connection between infertility and mental health and have it at the core of our education. Our Psychological partner Julianne Boutaleb explains how a person’s mental health is impacted when dealing with the trauma of loss and the many struggles to conceive in this insightful conversation.
To continue the conversation about Fertility Matters at Work, Natalie and Kate spoke with Becky another of our co-founders (sadly, Claire Ingle who is also a co-founder had tech gremlins and couldn’t join us to chat). The conversation was also with Helen Burgess who, like Kate, is a partner at Fertility Matters at Work and an employment lawyer at Shoosmiths. Becky explained more about the work Fertility Matters at Work is doing, so if you’re yet to watch our webinar or don’t know much about us, this is a great insight. Helen shares why her firm, Shoosmiths was keen to start talking about this topic. After talking to colleagues Helen found that, like her, there was very little fertility support in the workplace, and as an employment lawyer wanted to shine a light on employers and organisations. The pair also share their own personal experiences of their fertility journey in the workplace and the difficulties they faced.
This episode is a case study of how The Bank of England has spent the last 12 months working with Kate Davies, to become a Fertility Friendly workplace and is a conversation with Anastasia Vinnikova Wellbeing Lead who talked about how the project came about as the bank already had a good foundation within the wellbeing space and a good level of education in core principles in wellbeing and life events, that impacted their workforce.
As we have mentioned, at Fertility Matters at Work we have gained invaluable insight from our online community and this is what we aim to share as we continue to raise awareness of the issues people face. We’ve heard from many front line workers who have such a difficult time, dealing with triggering situations, trying to get time off or flexibility in their work and we were keen to address this in one of the podcast conversations Natalie and Kate had. In this episode they are in conversation with Kate Jarman who is the Director of Corporate Affairs at Milton Keynes University Hospital. Kate is also the co-founder of the Flex NHS along with her colleague Aasha Cowey. Kate and Aasha campaign for flexible working for all and better working lives in the NHS.
Fertility Benefits are a hot topic and one that is going to continue to become more popular in 2022, we are sure of it. Our mission at Fertility Matters at Work is to ensure organisations understand the impact of infertility and the emotional toll it has on a workforce, as whilst fertility benefits are amazing to some extent, there needs to be a cultural understanding of the issue that is being supported. In this episode of the podcast, Jenny Saft, co-founder of a European Fertility Benefits company Oviavo explains the market and the work they are doing.
The series drew to a close, talking about the next steps, with some examples from South Eastern Rail whom launched a Pregnancy Loss Policy the company launched during Baby Loss Awareness Week in October 2021. Shona Gilbert talked about her experience in the workplace. She worked in a busy agency at a senior level. After a failed round of IVF she took a break and sometime later, decided to give it another go. Her experience from the first round told her that she needed to prioritise herself and she made the decision to ask her line manager if she could take a sabbatical. The episode closes in conversation with Dr. Krystal Wilkinson, Senior Lecturer in HRM, Department of People and Performance talks through the findings from Manchester Metropolitan University and its study ‘Complex fertility journeys and Employment’ August 2021. The insights from this study continue to inform the work we are doing at Fertility Matters at Work.