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Making Flexible Work Campaign and Charter

Our #MakingFlexibleWork campaign aims to increase flexible working - in all its forms - and narrow the gender seniority gap in the Insurance and Long-Term Savings Sector.

The Making Flexible Work Charter: 

As part of this campaign, we are encouraging all ABI members, associate members and other insurance and long-term savings firms to pledge their support for a new sector specific Making Flexible Work Charter. It’s the first of its kind in UK Financial Services and 36 firms have already signed up, in addition to the ABI. It comprises the following three commitments, which need to be met within 12 months of signing the Charter: 

MakingitCLEARtransparent.pngCharter signatories commit to publishing details of their flexible working policy so that it is publicly available for employees and prospective candidates alike.
Making it possibleCharter signatories commit to advertising the majority of roles as being open to flexible working, including part-time working (if appropriate) and/or as a job-share if the role is full-time.
Making it happenCharter signatories put in place processes and guidance to support and promote different forms of flexible working, including job sharing.

Royal London makes flexible work

Gail Baillie and Lynn Macleay on job sharing at Royal London

Gail's Story

I’ve been fortunate enough to work flexibly in senior roles since I had my daughter who is now 24. My youngest is 15 but I still have no plan to work full-time. It was great that when I joined Royal London this was just accepted, and I didn’t have to fight my case for flexibility. This is a far cry from 1997 when I had to submit a business case to the managing director about how I would make ‘part-time’ working work in a senior role!

Flexible working is important to me because first and foremost I am a mum, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend and working flexibly helps me create time for these priority roles. That doesn’t mean I don’t love my work and enjoy what I do or commit to it 100%. It just means that I have a bit more time to do both without feeling stretched in all directions. It’s still a juggling act but more manageable and more balanced. 

I work in a Director role in Brand & Marketing with a very broad scope and have the benefit of having Lynn job-share with me. What this means is that as well as doing her own demanding day-job as Head of Marketing Ops & Change, Lynn acts up for me when I’m not around and shares some of my broader transformation responsibilities.

I think this works well for us both (Lynn will tell you if she agrees…) and for the business. I can continue to bring my experience, to make a contribution at a senior level in the organisation, but within the flexibility I need (the alternative is simply that I wouldn’t be here). Lynn is able to experience the challenge of working at the next level but in a safe environment where I can support her and guide her. 

And we both get a trusted colleague to share and solve some of the more gnarly challenges with. The business benefits from no operational gaps, the collective power of two people working closely together and two happy colleagues.

How do we make it work between us? Communication. Trust. Without Ego.

My top tips for managing a flexible role ... ruthless prioritisation, progress over perfection, be proud of your flexible working not apologetic.

Lynn's Story

I’d never had the chance to work in a flexible role but had always been interested to see how it could work to broaden my scope and responsibilities, so when the opportunity arose to do this at a senior Director level I jumped at the chance! 

What I feel this gives me is the opportunity to still work on the detail and be close enough to the ‘on the ground’ activity but then also be able to take that detail up to Director strategy level.

I’ve worked at Royal London for 20 years and the experience I’ve gained in that time put me in good stead for the Head of Marketing Ops & Change role and Marketing Capabilities & Data job share role with Gail.

Gail is newer to the organisation and what I think makes our job share partnership work so well is the great leadership and experience Gail brings from her previous roles outside of Royal London, combined with my deep knowledge of the business, to help join together what needs done with who we need to help us to do it! 

As Gail said and I agree with, how we make our specific partnership work is communication and trust, and jumping in to help each other out, however big or small the piece is. And we also try to have fun along the way while doing it!

Job sharing allows me to operate at Director level with guidance and support from Gail to develop and grow in this safe environment. I am also a soon to be first time mum, so this helps me to work in a different way after working full time for 20 years and having options to work more flexibly at a senior level is such a great thing to see Royal London being supportive of.

My top tips for managing a flexible role ... enjoy the variety and challenge that working in a flexible role can bring to the table!  Be comfortable with what might feel uncomfortable as you navigate through a new way of working and see every challenge as an opportunity to do good and drive positive outcomes.

And I love Gail’s point about progression not perfection… start before you’re ready and go for it and the momentum and support will follow!


PensionBee makes flexible work

Amandine Pacchiotti, BeeKeeper (at PensionBee since August 2022)

Amandine PacchiottiFlexibility with remote working is definitely a way to attract more diverse people. In particular, it gives opportunities to individuals with special needs. Disabled and still in recovery, I currently cannot cope with working in an office. Ending up repeatedly medically unfit to work, my CV is full of gaps and I was really determined to find a company where I could see myself lasting. I have applied only to a handful of places and if there was no fully remote working option, it was a deal-breaker.

Remote working is a total game changer.

I require a lot of time physically on my own in order to function.I can use my coping mechanisms without restrictions and fear of judgement. Most importantly, I can truly be myself, which saves me an inestimable amount of energy. I’m also able to focus on my job without being overstimulated by my surroundings and without the pressure of in-person social interactions. When you join a company and you hear all these things about flexibility, it feels like your career can really be sustainable. I want to, and can see myself, staying at PensionBee. Its approach to flexible working is how I’ll thrive and grow. So it's really vital. I’ve always wanted to work and I just never stopped pushing myself. But I need to be supported and to feel safe.

Emily Tribe, Head of Culture, Inclusion & Engagement (at PensionBee since 2016)

Emily TribePensionBee’s approach to flexible working has helped me enormously because without it, I don't think I'd be working at all. After I had my son, I came back to work full-time for a bit, in my role as Head of Talent. I then moved to a four-day week but I was still feeling quite overwhelmed by all of the different responsibilities I had and like I wasn't getting to spend enough time with him.

I actually handed in my notice before putting in a request for flexible working, because I thought that I just didn't want to work at all. However, handing my notice in started a conversation about flexible working. I was given the opportunity to move into a new role as Head of Culture, Inclusion and Wellbeing. I still have the same level of seniority, good opportunities for progression, and am able to work on things that are really interesting. It's just the scope of my responsibilities was changed so that I could do it manageably in a three-day week. I also chose to do that three-day week spread out over four shorter days.

This works really well for me because I find that in the type of work I'm doing, and the pace at which the company moves, I feel a bit out of the loop if I'm out for too many days. Being in for four shorter days a week gives me the opportunity to still be in all the conversations that I need to be in and keep up with the pace of change, but it also means that another little bit of the day is just for me and my son to spend quality time together. It’s made an enormous difference to my wellbeing and how I feel. I can now imagine a way for me to have a really exciting and fulfilling career and also spend all of the time that I want to spend with my son.

Sarah Kidney, Compliance Manager (at PensionBee since December 2020)

Sarah KidneyWhen I am not at work, I’m in rehearsals for a show. That’s not something that I’d be able to do if I was working in central London and having to commute, because usually rehearsals start at 7:30pm. I would probably still be on a train home from central London at that time. Being able to work from home has meant that I can commit to shows and really get involved in the local theatre community without worrying that my train is going be late.

When I was looking for a job, my main criteria was that it had to be remote. I didn't want a job that is advertised as mostly remote and then it turns into you have to be there every day for a meeting. I wanted one hundred percent working from home so that I knew exactly where I stood and didn't have to worry that it was going to change. I personally would never work in a job where I had to be in an office all of the time anymore because it would take away so much from my other passions in life.

If a company isn't prepared to be flexible and give a little bit for their staff then it's a sign their priority is their business and nothing more. I want to work somewhere that also cares about the wellbeing of their staff. This then reflects in the people that they attract. They get people that want to stay there and progress, which then feeds back into the business side of things as well.

Matt Loft, Chief Design Officer (at PensionBee since 2016)

Matt LoftPensionBee’s flexible hours have been very useful to me and my team. I’ve only ever worked part-time for PensionBee. In the early days of PensionBee, I started out doing two or three days in quite a flexible arrangement because the company was still forming. At the time, it was good for PensionBee because the amount of work they required from a designer fluctuated somewhat. And it was good for me because I was doing lots of other things at the time so it all worked out very nicely. I've had a number of different arrangements, like working a few days a week or taking larger chunks off and then working solidly for a block. Flexibility has been really valuable to me in pursuing what I want to do in life.

Now, I work four days a week and use my time to start a family. It’s great to be able to spend time with my 14 week old son, Caspar, and it's really helpful as a new parent to have that flexibility.

Flexibility is fundamental to the way I want to work. It makes my life a lot easier and I work better under that arrangement as I have more freedom about when I work.

Remote working is also really helpful to my team.as we have a lot of international members. They use our ability to work from abroad and actively take us up on that policy. By extension, as a manager I get to keep those people because this arrangement is good for them and they're happy so they do good work.

Flexibility attracts great people. The days of being nine to five in an office are long gone and that's not how you're going to attract great talent. I truly believe that your life inside and outside of work needs to work together harmoniously for you to actually do your best in both of those environments.

Ageas makes flexible work

Emma Compton - Senior Developer

Emma ComptonI have worked at Ageas for 20 years within the IT department. I started out as a Trainee IT Developer after University and am now a Senior Developer. When I started in 2001 my contracted hours were 35 hours a week, Monday to Friday.

In 2008 I had my first child, when I returned to work I requested to reduce my hours to 25 hours a week, doing three 7 hour days and one 4 hour day. Ageas agreed to my request and this pattern suited my lifestyle for years, including when I had my second child in 2011.

My primary childcare was both sets of grandparents but as they have gotten older I changed my working pattern in 2019 to two 7 hour days and two 5.5 hour days so that I was able to pick up the children from school 3 days a week.

Last year I needed to reassess my work/life balance after the pandemic and requested to reduce my hours to 22 hours a week over four days so that my working pattern fitted into the children’s school day.

Reducing my hours took an enormous amount of pressure off that I was putting on myself and has helped my mental health improve significantly. Since I reduced my hours, I have been promoted and I’m also doing an apprenticeship through work to expand my career choices. Ageas has been so supportive over the course of my career and are very accommodating to changing working patterns that I would definitely recommend them as an employer.

Rebecca Cook - IT Development Team Leader

Rebecca CookJoining Ageas in June 2022 has been a great move for me. As mum of a pre-teen with a chronic medical condition, it was really important for me to find a role that allowed me to do what I love doing (leading a team of talented individuals who deliver innovative tech solutions) whilst being able to be on hand to give my daughter the additional support she needs during those challenging secondary school years. Having felt like my career had stalled over the past few years, Smart Working at Ageas has given me the opportunity to feel like I’m me again.

Di Powell - Project Manager, Business Transformation Team

Di PowellI’ve worked at Ageas for almost 23 years, and am a fulltime Project Manager in the Transformation team. When I first started working for Ageas I was able to start early and finish early which was fantastic as I got to miss the traffic and as a young person got to make the most of life. When I had my daughter 9 years ago there was no quibble when I adjusted my hours to work around childcare, working 1 half day and 4 longer days. As school life began I realised I wanted to be part of the school day too so whilst still working fulltime, I adjusted my hours enabling me to do 2 morning drop offs and 2 pickups.

The pandemic threw the cat amongst the pigeons as home schooling and work became a huge challenge, but we survived like many others. Now with Smart working I’ve never been happier. I venture into the office roughly once per week this enables me to see my team, colleagues from other teams and benefit from the office buzz. I cherish my office days and over the summer holidays they are my days I get to dress up, put shoes on and escape the child! I’m really lucky that my husband only works part-time as this takes most of the pressure off with childcare, but when I’m working at home I don’t feel like I miss out either.

Ageas and my department managers have been amazing. They recognise that work life balance is so important, we are encouraged to manage our time effectively calling out when the workload gets too great, but more importantly making sure we look after ourselves. I know if I need to flex my hours to go to Sports day, or for a teacher conference I can.

Keoghs makes flexible work

Jonathan Gray – Solicitor in Casualty team

Jonathan GrayWhen I first joined Keoghs, I had previously only worked 4 days a week. I had a longstanding involvement with a charity run by my wife, which includes running a Community Café on a Friday morning. On joining Keoghs I was able to structure my hours to work 4 longer days and then just 3 hours on a Friday, working around the Community Café. This work pattern has helped me achieve a better work-life balance. 

The initial suggestion about flexible working came from Keoghs even before I was offered the job! My line manager also works 4 days a week, and so understands the benefits and was fully supportive of my subsequent application to reduce my hours.

Keoghs has a positive approach to supporting colleagues to work flexibly. The firm was immediately prepared to allow a flexible work pattern that enabled me to maintain my charity work and keep Fridays free. The company is very good at communicating its commitment to flexible working, which gives people the confidence to ask, rather than feeling that they will need to persuade the firm to even consider it.

Dave Conway – Legal Director in Legacy team

Dave ConwayI work 3 days per week on a semi-retired footing (now aged 62 ½ with over 40 years’ service and 45 years in the law overall). This is particularly flexible given that I am able to work Monday to Wednesday during summer and Tuesday to Thursday in the winter.

This move to part-time work reflects my age and station in life, and previous medical advice, and enables me to enjoy free time before I am too old! My previous line managers support my initial request to go to 4 days per week and then a year later to 3 days per week. The whole process was quick and uncontroversial.

Keoghs has a good approach to all forms of flexible working and understands we’re all different and most of us will want adjustments to our work life at one time or another. I know other colleagues work shorter hours and there’re facilities to review flexible arrangements annually which I think is positive and forward looking.

Catherine Kober, Partner in Complex & Catastrophic Loss Team

Catherine KoberI work 4 days a week. Technically I do have an agreed day off but I use the extra day really as a buffer to be flexible with my time where I have childcare commitments.

As a parent of 3 young children, one of which has additional needs, I simply would not be able to do my job without flexible working. Not only would I not be able to do my job, I also wouldn’t be able to be there for my children when they need me. Being supported in my flexible working means I can be a mother and a lawyer!

When I made the application to work flexibly, it was made very clear to me that as long as I was performing in my role, flexibility was a given and in turn I hope that I have passed on this understanding and empathy to those I line manage.

It’s very much understood at Keoghs that if you give people flexibility, they will be able to achieve more in their job, have a greater work-life balance and ultimately feel valued as a person not just an employee.

Clare Lloyd, Associate, Property Risks and Coverage Team

Clare LloydSince returning to work after having my second child in 2017, I reduced my hours and I now work 4 days a week.  When my children were small I wanted to spend as much time as I could with them but remain a working mum. My request for part time working was immediately approved. 

Without the daily commute I gain extra time each day which helps lessen the daily household chores. This massively reduces my mental load and positively affects my wellbeing, something I think working parents neglect but which I really try to focus on.

Throughout my career at Keoghs I have been fully supported, from peers and Line Managers, to ensure that I can progress my career while having a young family and working part-time. 

The Agile working policy is key to the company’s positive approach. In my opinion, giving colleagues the flexibility to organise their working demands with their home life demands results in a more engaged, committed and professional workforce.

Ghazala Khalid, Partner in Property Risks and Coverage team

IGhazala Khalid work 4 days a week during which I work flexible start and finish times. When business/client needs require it, I do work on a Friday and take another weekday off in lieu. This flexible working means I’m able to fit in schools runs and spend quality time with family.

My manager understands the benefits of flexible working both to the employee and the business. Keoghs has really embraced flexible working; flexible start/finish times and working from home for at least 2 days have always been an option for all employees. Colleagues can make an application knowing that Keoghs will be supportive given their open policy on this.

Amanda Johnstone – Partner and Deputy Business Unit Director in Property Risks and Coverage team

Amanda JohnstoneI work 4 days a week following my return from maternity leave. The downtime on a Monday allows me to better balance home/work. I use Mondays to get prepared for the week, run errands and have one on one time with my youngest child whilst the eldest plays with her friends at nursery.

From the start, there was clear and transparent communication from my manager in terms of what the business need was around my flexible working request. I think the company’s approach to supporting us to work flexibly is positive. In my experience, all requests are considered and fairly decided.

Covéa makes flexible work

Bethanie, HR Shares Services Manager - 12 years at Covéa 

BethanieI started at Covéa in a contact centre and spent time in Third Party Claims but I'd always had an interest in HR. So when an opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance to join. Covéa has given me the opportunity to progress my career within HR, develop my skills through a CIPD diploma and work with some fantastic colleagues. Since returning from maternity leave, I've reduced my working hours which has given me the flexibility to continue my career whilst spending time with my son.

Adele, 10 years at Covéa

AdeleCovéa was my first 'grown up' job after I left university & I loved the experience of the graduate scheme. I have moved around different departments to progress my career & have been provided with continuous opportunities. Now returning from having my son, I'm able to work condensed hours which means I'm able to continue the career I worked so hard for & still have time for my family.

Phoenix Group makes flexible work

Claire Hawkins.jpgFlexible working: The thin red line - Claire Hawkins, Director of Corporate Affairs and Investor Relations

I knew from the first day I started work that when I had a family that would be my priority, my red line. My children are now in their 20s but I am still home based and it is only quite recently that I re-started working full-time. Family – my kids, my husband, and our dog - are still my first priority.

That doesn’t mean I lack ambition, or that I am not capable. It means I needed to work flexibly, and I needed a company and managers to support me. As a result of that support, I’m now on the executive board of a FTSE 100.

If my own experience counts for anything, then I think the lesson is that we should be embracing flexibility as much as possible.

Today a buzzword in the workplace is agility. There is nothing more agile than flexible working. One of the very few positive side-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that, over the last two years, it has greatly moved the dial on attitudes to where, when and how we work.

Today a buzzword in the workplace is agility. There is nothing more agile than flexible working. One of the very few positive side-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that, over the last two years, it has greatly moved the dial on attitudes to where, when and how we work.

I first became a part-time worker with Phoenix in 2000, in the very early days of the Internet era. I was the very first in the entire finance division. A decade later, I turned this into a double by becoming the very first official homeworker in the company.

I had a very good reason for taking this path which seemed highly unorthodox at the time: I lost my own mother to breast cancer when I was 16 so my guiding principle in life was about wanting to be there for my children. I recognised that you don’t have forever, and I realised that I would never lie on my deathbed and think ‘gosh, I wish I’d worked more’. But I might think ‘I wish I’d spent more time with my kids’.

When we had our children, I had a decision to make about whether I wanted to carry on in employment or not. I wanted to work and bring in an income but being around for my kids was my number one priority. That’s when I realised I would take a different path to other people.

So, 21 years ago, I came to work for Phoenix because they took a chance on me by giving me a job as a part-time chartered accountant in their shared services organisation in the Peterborough area.

They’d never had anyone work part-time in their financial function before and the recruitment company had told me there was no point in even applying. Luckily, I managed to get my CV to the finance team, and it landed with a brave manager who had the courage to give me a job, three days a week – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – and helped me find nursery care just round the corner.

He said he had no idea what he was going to get me to do because no one had worked part time before, but we’d try and work it out. I’ve been loyal to Phoenix ever since.

There were two pivotal points in my career when I could potentially have given up. The first was in 2005, after I’d had my second child and my first child was just starting school. I thought I wouldn’t cope with all the demands, but my boss was great. She suggested that I spread my three days over school hours in term time and then revert to three full days during the holidays, supported by childcare.

So, for the next ten years I worked school hours while running large teams and challenging projects. But, even in the middle of a busy reporting period, I had to walk out of the door at half past two. It’s amazing how that rigidity provided certainty to my team as to what they could expect from me and when. The feedback from people was that I was more accessible that way.

The second pivotal moment came in 2011 when the business closed my local office. I was offered really career-enhancing jobs in both London and Birmingham, but I didn’t want to leave my family and have a long commute every day. My boss told me just to come to London one day a week and work from home the rest of the time. That’s when I became the company’s first official home worker and it’s been that way ever since.

By definition, flexible working is not a one-size-fits-all. It’s about being grown-up and professional about what it is that you’re seeking from people in your professional relationship. If I hadn’t chosen to prioritise my family, I would have had a much more linear career targeted towards the goal of becoming a finance director. Instead, I’ve had a squiggly career route and, yes, in that time I have passed up on job opportunities because I didn’t think I could do them properly part-time working from home.

Today I might not feel I have to make that choice. Technology, and greater acceptance of home working, has changed things for us all. Experience has also shown me that being more senior doesn’t necessarily mean having to work ‘harder’ or ‘longer’; it’s about being agile about the needs of the role, your team and, always, to yourself.

But I’ve been lucky to have a very fulfilling career, I believe I am happier with the end point than if I had gone in a straight line.  I know I have brought a lot of value to my employer while still being true to my aim of being there for my family. My teams have really got that, responded to that and respected that.

The ultimate proof of the huge benefits of flexibility is when people don’t actually know what days or hours you work, or when you’re in or out of the office. But they know that you’re going to deliver for them, and they trust you to do that.

My dog is very much part of my family and my day normally starts early with taking our big, naughty Australian labradoodle for a run before settling down to work.

Working part-time and from home has made me see things from a different perspective, be more balanced, be more positive, be more collaborative and more flexible. That’s best for my employer, my colleagues, my family and our dog.

Andrea Robottom, Organisational Development and Effectiveness Director, Phoenix Group:

Andrea RobottomFlexible working means I can make the most of the important moments. It has allowed me to belong and be part of a successful business with Phoenix, while also being an engaged and involved mum at the same time. That means that while I have enjoyed many professional highlights, I also haven’t missed out on those important moments at home, such as doing the school run with my 11-year old, or helping with homework, despite my pretty hopeless algebra!

I have been working remotely and independently now for 13 years and it really enables me to be the best I can be – an outcome that is best for me, best for my family and best for the business.  I have the huge advantage of a fabulous job share which offers me a virtual thought partner without compromising on output or collaboration. Working from home allows me to really focus and get things done, using time in the office for workshops, connecting with colleagues and fostering a sense of belonging.  Flexible working really has enabled me to have my cake and eat it – to have the thrill of delivering a demanding set of work priorities whilst balancing it with a strong focus on my family.

Vanessa Head shot 21.jpg

Vanessa Loughlin, Organisation Development & Effectiveness Director, Phoenix Group:

Flexible working and a fabulous job share allows me to be the best me for Phoenix. I love where I live but it is a little out of the mainstream. Flexible working enables me to travel when I need to – so I keep connected and I’m visible as a leader - and enables me to make best use of time when I’m working from home.  Add to this a fantastic working partnership through our job share and the result is win-win: Phoenix gets the best from me and I feel at my best most of the time.

Aviva makes flexible work

Amanda BlancAmanda Blanc, Group CEO Aviva and HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Champion, said:

“There are still too many barriers which stop women progressing in insurance. As an industry we need to do more, and do it quicker, to make the changes we all want to see. Flexible ways of working is one way, but it needs to be available to everyone. The pandemic has shown us the value of flexible working, but to truly level the playing field at the office and at home, both men and women should feel able to work flexibly.”

ABI makes flexible work

Yvonne Braun, Executive Sponsor for Diversity and Inclusion at the Association of British Insurers said:Yvonne Braun“The insurance and long-term savings industry is no longer sitting on the fence about the benefits of flexible working for all staff. Today’s announcement represents one of the biggest ever commitments to increasing flexible working in financial services. By joining the Making Flexible Work campaign, firms will tackle the gender seniority gap and be able to attract and retain the brightest and best talent in our industry. 

“Our new research reveals steady improvement, but we need to accelerate the pace of progress in the sector. The data shows that while some firms have raced ahead, others have only just begun to make headway in improving diversity. The launch of today’s campaign and charter will ensure we go further and faster in making our sector more representative and help it win in the fierce battle for talent.” 

ABI members and associate members who are taking action and have signed up to the Making Flexible Work Charter:

How can I find out more and sign my firm up? 

If you would like to find out more or sign the Making Flexible Work Charter then please contact Liisa Antola, Policy Adviser, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The Making Flexible Work Campaign forms part of the ABI’s 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. As well as this flexible working campaign, we will be working with members on improving Black, Asian and minority ethnic diversity and on increasing social mobility in our sector through promoting initiatives such as the Race at Work Charter and the Kickstart Scheme. You can read about all of our D&I work on our Diversity Hub.