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  • Writer's pictureaxisaberdeen

The Parenting Tribe: It takes a village to raise a child!

Returning to work after having a baby can be a challenging time for all parents.

We spoke to Baker Hughes employees Rhea Young, Steph Leckie and Sophie August about sharing their new parent stories, which evolved into creating the Parenting Tribe Network.

As parents, what difficulties did you face when returning to work?

“I felt totally lost coming back to work, it was clear a lot had changed, new management, new members of the team and it was a complete shift from my day-to-day life being a parent. I was extremely nervous as if I was starting a new job”.

“I have had no support since I came back. Not that I need to be babysat, but it would have been nice if he had reached out to me and made sure I was ok”.

“I felt guilty about going on maternity leave and handing my workload over to colleagues for that period. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do as much as possible before I left”.

These are some of the real quotes we received from our Parent Tribe members. It can be hard for working parents – finding childcare, coping with sleepless nights, looking to understand work / life balance to name just a few. Along with this comes identity challenges as we navigate our own personal growth at home and within the workplace.

Between just the three of us alone, we have faced the challenges of premature birth, risk of losing their child, child hospital admissions, grief of close family members, PTSD, Post Natal Depression, all during a reduced support network due to COVID restrictions.

Returning to work after this was a challenge that we never saw coming... we expected to slot back into work as if we hadn’t been away.

How did the Parenting Tribe start?

Rhea returned to work in 2021 after her maternity leave, where she suffered Post Natal depression for months. Fitting back into the workplace proved more of a challenge than expected – and in hindsight was still navigating out of her PND upon return to work.

Self confidence and major identity issues was a real challenge – as a result she reached out to Senior leaders in the business who were parents to ask for some advice – the advice? Totally normal, take your time and reach out if you need support.

At the same time Sophie and Steph had also returned – experiencing severe challenges during their maternity leave from grief, PTSD, and premature birth. We started to open up and share our stories and how we were coping day to day at work – realising this is all working parents need – a relatable colleague who can be there to understand the sleepless nights, the breakfast and school run before even making it to your desk, juggling a sick child during work meetings - from here the Parenting Tribe was born.

In May 2023, we started a Teams channel as a resource group and enabled the ability to link relatable challenges to other parents and thus allowing a network to support each other. We had no idea it was going to grow this big!

How many members are now in the Parenting Tribe and how do the members help support one another?

We honestly can’t believe it, we have over 400 global members, the number growing organically daily – through sheer word of mouth!

What started as just an idea for a small Teams channel to connect parents who wanted some support has now become a global parent community. We have daily posts from our Tribe sharing various resources such as podcasts, books, and documentaries. We share the highs and lows of parenting – asking others for advice for thoughts. It has become a very active Teams channel.

Furthermore, we saw the need to catch up monthly on several topics, so we created our community catch ups – asking the tribe to poll their key areas of interest – we then aim to cover them during our monthly Teams meetings from:

  • Work life balance discussions with executive managers within BH

  • Summer holiday activities to support the kids.

  • Sleep – and how we manage day to day.

Our Tribe is evolving every day, just recently our site in Norway is looking to implement a Child book swap initiative, Aberdeen is looking to run a ‘bring your kids to work day’ – all driven and owned by our wonderful Tribe.

How is the Parenting Tribe helping to break the stigma around parenting?

COVID changed a lot for the workplace (I’m sure we’ve all seen the BBC News interview with the child walking in) – suddenly our work and home lives became one and we all had to navigate this. We want to keep this transparency.

We want to remain our authentic selves, many of our Tribe members expressed the challenge of being authentic – sharing the vulnerability that our children are our top priority and to not be stigmatised for saying so.

We want to talk authentically about the challenges of parenthood in the workplace, a recent study showed that 24% of mums in the UK felt less valued as an employee in the workplace since becoming a mum and that 30% of mums in the UK didn’t feel understood by others in the workplace – we want to change that in BH.

By openly talking about being a parent and the working parent guilt – we suddenly feel empowered because we are not alone. More recently we have started to discuss what skills as parents we can bring to the workplace – Patience, time management, empathy and prioritising to name a few.

What difference have you seen in your organisation since the Parenting Tribe has been created?

The most exciting impact is the feeling of belonging we see in our Tribe members.

Many have commented that they are so happy that they found out about the Tribe and whether they are visibly contributing or not, it’s a reassuring presence.

Many members have used it as a place to ask questions and crowd-source answers. All of this generally impacts their wellbeing at work. Furthermore, we are also driving impact on culture, processes, and policies.

Our HR team have been so supportive and enthusiastic about the Tribe, so much so that we have created a people leader toolkit to support employees becoming parents that is now being piloted in the UK prior to going global!

What do you have planned for the Parenting Tribe in the future and what is your end goal?

We originally defined our goal in three directions:

  • Support and wellbeing for members

  • Resources and initiatives to help working parents adapt and manage their careers.

  • Influencing our organisation’s culture and processes.

We believe that these three working lines are still relevant, and we plan to build up on each, however this is something that we will re-validate with all members in a workshop early 2024.

The tribe is only valuable if it serves the members, so we want to ensure that our principles and activities are co-created with all of them along the way.

The Parenting Tribe has been nominated for an ALLY 2023 GRIT award, the only parent focused community. From all of us at the AXIS Network - good luck!



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