Colleagues At The Law Firm Discuss Their Stories As Part Of National Inclusion Week
As part of National Inclusion Week (24 – 30 September), colleagues from national law firm Irwin Mitchell have been sharing their stories on how the law firm’s flexible working policy helps create an environment where everyone has a chance to thrive.
Irwin Mitchell promotes wellbeing and flexible working. All colleagues are able to request flexible working including reductions or changes to working hours, home working, job sharing and shift working. In addition, the firm encourages line managers to feel comfortable saying yes to those ad hoc and occasional requests for flexible working that makes life easier for colleagues.
Irwin Mitchell’s flexible working initiative is supported by the firm’s diversity and networking support group, IM Modern Life which looks at the nuances and effects of modern family life. Led by London-based regulatory and criminal investigations partner, Sarah Wallace, the group examines issues such as balancing careers and home responsibilities, working flexibly, looking after children, caring for parents or relatives with health problems or disabilities along with other concepts relating to the structure of modern family life.
Over the past year colleagues at the firm have been sharing their personal experiences of flexible working to help to support working parents, those with caring responsibilities, or those who simply want the time to pursue their own interests outside of the office. The move forms part of the work Irwin Mitchell is doing to become more inclusive and support employee wellbeing.
The case studies have been one of the most popular features shared internally with over 2000 hits since their launch in late 2017.
One such colleague is Matt Round, a Lead Resourcing Consultant in Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office who works flexibly on an informal basis to help with his childcare responsibilities as a co-parent of son, Frank. He says that IM's flexible working policies have been invaluable in helping him juggle a career and parenthood.
Matt said: "Co-parenting and general childcare responsibilities when you work full time can be a nightmare so having the flexibility to work from home or flexibly, as and when I need to, is invaluable to me and my son.
“It’s also helpful as my ex, Frank’s mum,works different shift patterns every week. When there are lots of moving parts in a co-parenting scenario that flexibility really makes the difference. Ultimately we are all happier and I can focus on getting the job done, which makes me more productive.”
Christopher Hurlston, an Associate Solicitor in the medical negligence and abuse team in Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office re-joined IM in 2017 after a three year hiatus at a different law firm. He said the ability to work flexibly was an important factor in his decision to return to Irwin Mitchell.
Christopher said: "My partner and I have been fortunate enough to have two children, both born through overseas surrogacy. We both work full-time so childcare is made up of full-time nursery, school, a child-minder and grandparents.
“In the early days of exploring our options, my partner underwent some fertility tests and I was able to take leave in accordance with Irwin Mitchell’s IVF policy, something I later discovered that not all other firms had in place at the time.
"It can sometimes be difficult to manage the competing demands of work and family life and sometimes you have to make tough decisions about what comes first. By working flexibly on an informal basis and having a good support network around us, I’m able to be a good dad, which I think makes me a better lawyer.
“The most important thing we can do as colleagues, is be open about the challenges creating a work/life balance presents, support one another and show compassion."
Full time working co-parent, Kate Rawlings, Irwin Mitchell’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager in Sheffield, began working flexibly in 2017 to allow more time to spend with her daughter and look after her own wellbeing.
She said: “Working 9-5pm every day meant I didn’t get to do any school drop offs or pick-ups on the days I have my daughter. Long days in breakfast and afterschool clubs left my daughter tired and me feeling guilty.
“I rearranged my week to include shorter hours and home working on the days my daughter is with me and longer days in the office when she is with her dad.
“The teachers have commented on the positive impact my flexible working has had on my daughter because we have more precious quality time together. I also have enough time to prioritise my own wellbeing by getting out for a run, which makes me feel great and I am more productive as a result.”
Expert Opinion“Whatever your needs are outside of work, creating a good work/life balance is paramount for the wellbeing of our people. We’re working hard to empower colleagues to make use of our flexible and agile working policies, and are enjoying the benefits this offers to the business and our clients.” Andrea Preston - HR Director
National Inclusion Week is held from 24 – 30 September 2018 and aims to raise awareness of the importance of inclusion in the workplace. Irwin Mitchell is committed to ensuring that all of its colleagues can be themselves at work and to creating inclusive working environments where it’s people can thrive.
You can find out more about how we celebrate the diversity of our people, our clients and the communities in which we operate by visiting our Diversity page.