One of the strengths of our practice is the way we look after each other, and at the heart of this are our values of loyalty, respect, balance, and integrity. We understand that many of our people have parenting and caring responsibilities that often intertwine with their roles at work, even more so with the Covid lens applied.
Being recognised as a Family Friendly Workplace will help us continue to build a positive and inclusive culture where open communication about finding balance is encouraged. At CBP we understand that life changes when someone becomes a parent or a carer –priorities shift, balance at work becomes even more important, time becomes a more precious commodity and values can shift. We want to continue to support our people with these competing priorities.
Being formally recognised as a Family Friendly Workplace will also help us continue to attract and retain the best talent, an important strategic objective for our practice.
At the centre of our Strategic Plan is our purpose to collectively build and secure the future of our clients, colleagues and community. At the core of this purpose is a commitment to maintaining an environment that is safe, respectful and supports our people to be the best version of themselves whilst contributing to the success of our practice. To achieve this, we must create balance and foster their general wellbeing.
A commitment to foster and maintain physical, mental, social and environmental health and safety will see our practice continue to support and grow high performing teams, reduce lost productivity, and substantially improve the wellbeing of our people. It is a chance to:
Distributed and Flexible Work
Our Distributed and Flexible Working Guidelines were implemented to help guide our transition back to the office during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our approach to distributed and flexible working was aligned to our approach to the pandemic which was ensuring our people remain safe, productive and connected so that we continue to achieve our strategic goals. Each role was categorised and this meant that nearly all of our roles could be performed remotely. This was a huge shift for our practice and it gave our leaders and people a framework to work within to ensure that flexibility continued while continuing to meet the needs of our clients.
Back Up Child Care Allowance
In 2016 we implemented our Back Up Childcare Allowance Policy to show our commitment to supporting our employees and their families. This policy provides a daily financial allowance to the employee where their usual work pattern has been distributed due to work commitments or their regular childcare arrangement was unavailable to assist with the costs of day-care or a nanny.
In 2020 we relaunched our Parental Leave Program and created [email protected] The priority for this program is to create a positive and inclusive culture where open communication about balancing family life is encouraged. We understand that everyone has unique needs and our [email protected] program is tailored to provide support to each individual and their own personal circumstances. As part of this program, we partnered with Parents at Work to provide our people with expert Executive Coaches to assist with the transition on to parental leave, while on leave and when returning from leave.
We wanted to make life a little bit easier for our working parents in lockdown so we partnered with KidsCo to deliver a special virtual kids after school program. The program was available to everybody and ran for two weeks.
We receive regular feedback and strong attendance from our people supporting our wellbeing approach. Most recently, we sent everyone in the practice a fruit and veggie box to their home address. We received an overwhelming response of gratitude from this initiative. We’ve shared some of their feedback below:
“Just wanted to say thank you very much for the amazing fruit and veggie box which was delivered to my house the other day!! I have already cooked several healthy and delicious meals with it!”
“I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone involved with getting the beautiful fruit and vegie boxes out to us all, and a huge thank you to the firm. It arrived yesterday afternoon and I was bowled over. Also, I was talking to my neighbour, and when I told her about it the box it turns out that Rocky Ponds Produce is next door to a family farm they have up in Townsville at Home Hill, one of their nephews works there. Thanks so much for supporting this farm and the lovely fresh produce that they grow.”
“Thank you for my lovely Fruit & Veggie box which arrived late yesterday evening, such a beautiful idea. CBP is one of the loveliest places I’ve worked in. Partners and staff are absolutely wonderful and look out for each other.”
Distributed and Flexible Work
Our people and leaders responded very well to our Distributed and Flexible Working Guidelines because it meant that nearly all of our positions could be performed remotely. A flexible working arrangement is built on trust and our employees and leaders understand this and trust became stronger in our practice. By going through this process it empowered our employees to make choices about when, where and how to work that best suits their needs while ensuring client needs continue to be met. We also now attract talent from outside our states that we operate in which in return opens up the talent pool.
In the last 12 months, 100% of our employees have returned from parental leave which is an increase of 17% on the previous 12 months. This is a great outcome and shows that [email protected] program is meeting the needs of our people.
Forty one kids attended the KidsCo program and we received great feedback from our employees. It was a great opportunity for the kids to make new friends and connect with other kids of parents at Colin Biggers & Paisley.
One of the key benefits we have seen by having an inclusive culture for everyone is the reduction in our turnover. Over the last 12 months our turnover reduced by 3.5%. Our senior leaders understand that life changes and can become more challenging when someone becomes a parent or carer. Our initiatives through our [email protected] program have been developed to assist with this to ensure there is minimal disruption to any employees career. Our promotional data also tells us that we have a 50/50 gender split of employees who have been promoted within our practice, with some being promoted while on Parental Leave. Our return rate of 100% of employees returning from parental leave has been one of the significant highlights as a benefit for our practice.
Kate Craig, Partner and Head of Commercial and Dispute Resolution
“With ongoing support from my colleagues and Colin Biggers & Paisley, I have never felt like I have had to choose between my family and my career”
I joined Colin Biggers & Paisley as a Solicitor in 2006. I had my daughter in 2012 when I was a Senior Associate, I was promoted to Partner in 2016 when I was eight months pregnant with my son, and I became Head of Group in 2020.
I have always worked flexibly. After each birth I took six months parental leave and I worked flexibly when I came back to work. I began returning to the office gradually, initially spending three days in the office and two at home, and over time increased that to four days a week in the office.
I have been incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by Partners who have supported me throughout my career and have created a culture within our practice where people, both men and women, can work flexibly. There have been times when I have needed to be present at home and other partners have stepped in and helped. There is an understanding that yes, my career is important to me but also that my family life is important to me too, and I don’t have to hide that.
Flexible working practices extend to everyone in my team. We understand that people are pulled in a number of different directions for different reasons. Family life can be stressful and what that looks like is different for everyone. They may have children or caring responsibilities. Having an awareness and an understanding of people’s circumstances, how they work and their family life, helps me understand how I can best support them. In turn, my team understands what is important to me. For example, on Monday afternoons I’m at school doing pick up and then we head to ballet class and soccer training.
The female partners at Colin Biggers & Paisley regularly come together to connect to check-in and see how we all are. We hear about all the different stages of life and schooling and connect as people, not just as partners. It’s a wonderful platform for us to get to know each other as people and offer our support if someone is struggling, and as I write this, my colleagues in New South Wales and Victoria are in lockdown, it’s now more important than ever that we check-in with each other.