The Future Of Work Is Parent-Friendly (And Here's How Your UAE-Based Organization Can Be Certified As One) A McKinsey report has noted that female leaders are significantly more likely than male leaders to leave their jobs because they want more flexibility, or because they want to work for a company that is more committed to employee well-being and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

By Mélanie Lapointe

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A recent report by McKinsey noted that 49% of female leaders say flexibility is one of the top three things they consider when deciding whether to join or stay with a company, compared to 34% of male leaders. Plus, two-thirds of women under 30 say they would be more interested in advancing if they saw senior leaders with the work-life balance they want.

In the current talent war complexity, employers are carefully scrutinized by employees and potential candidates. Adding the gender equality factor, companies are at risk of losing great human resources if they don't revisit their inclusivity policies.

With Women's History Month beginning today, and this year's theme for the International Women's Day being #EmbraceEquity, companies are more than ever invited to walk the talk when it comes to gender balance, but moreover, when it comes to humanizing the workplace, with policies and practices that support equity and inclusion.

For starters, female leaders want a better work culture. The McKinsey report noted that female leaders are significantly more likely than male leaders to leave their jobs because they want more flexibility, or because they want to work for a company that is more committed to employee well-being and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

However, only 30% of countries offer maternity leave options that meet International Labor Organization (ILO) standards. This is surprising considering that forward-thinking Nordic countries such as Sweden, Norway, and Iceland all have compelling case studies demonstrating that parent-friendly policies, combined with increased female employment, have been estimated to have impacted gross domestic product per capita growth by as much as 20% over the last half a century.

Focusing on parent-friendly policies not only helps a country's bottom line, but it can also go a long way to benefit businesses in terms of their brand, reputation, and competitive ability to attract the best talent, while also impacting the satisfaction and productivity of their employees. Due to all of these benefits, focusing on how best to support an organizations' employees is an imperative consideration for the future of work; it is, in fact, imperative for the future of society.

Related: When Women Win: How The Middle East Is Showcasing Female Success Across Entrepreneurship And Tech

This is where and how the Parent-friendly Label (PFL), an Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority initiative comes in. The PFL was launched as a voluntary workplace award program in 2021 that aims to reflect the vision of the UAE's leadership in supporting families to achieve a balance between work, family, and childcare for young children in their early years.

In November 2022, H.H. Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, launched the second cycle of the PFL program. As the first program of its kind in the region, the PFL implements the directives of H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, to make the program available to all eligible organizations in the country that understand family needs, adopt a compassionate and understanding culture, and offer sufficient maternity or paternity leave along with other innovative measures.

The program is open to semi-governmental, private, and third sector organizations, enabling those who qualify to receive public recognition of their commitment to a supportive work culture and policies for parents. The criteria for earning the Label fall under five key categories which include parental leave, flexible work, family care, family wellbeing, and culture. These criteria were brought to focus due to feedback provided by business leaders through a pilot program, a benchmarking exercise, as well as feedback from focus groups. The result is that the Label offers an independent validation of a commitment to providing parent-friendly workplaces- an increasingly crucial action for businesses aiming for a more holistic approach to success.

There are two levels of recognition: Parent-friendly and Parent-friendly+. The application process is rather straightforward, and at no direct cost to the organization. Indeed, once a potential applicant feels comfortable that they have the ability to demonstrate practice of at least the minimum criteria, they can move on to the next step which is to fill out the PFL application. Upon completion of the application, the final step consists of sharing the Parent-friendly Experience Survey within their organization. Once done, it is a matter of time until the assessment is completed, and organizations are awarded the PFL. Regardless of the outcome, all applicants receive a customized evaluation report as feedback, lending itself to the start of a progression plan, should an organization wish to level up and try again in the next application cycle.

As well as enhancing their reputations, organizations that earn the Label are also benefiting from development opportunities, evaluation report insights, the ability to network among and to learn from other similar-minded entities as well as to gain public recognition of their parent-friendly policies and practices. The inaugural cycle of PFL resulted in six entities being recognized -Etihad, Silal, Masdar, HSBC, Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management, and Emirates Nature-World Wildlife Fund- for their efforts in providing parent-friendly workplaces.

Will your organization be one of the names of the companies getting the Label this year?

Applications for this cycle of PFL close on May 12, 2023--email to learn more.

Related: The Path to Progress: Achieving Gender Parity in the Workplace Starts With Our Mindset

Mélanie Lapointe

Head of Learning and Development, Entrepreneur Middle East

Mélanie Lapointe is passionate about everything people and culture. An expert in diversity and inclusion-related topics including gender issues and intercultural communication, Mélanie has worn many hats in her 15-year career in learning and talent development. Her inclusive leadership style comes from having lived, worked, and studied in seven countries through an expat life that she embarked on in her teenage years. Her millennial perspective makes her a caring and devoted professional, committed to do good through her work. Mélanie’s vision of an ideal world is one where one’s voice is one’s ability to bloom, hence her drive to write these community-oriented pieces.

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