By Suzanne Dowman, Business Administrator, TIC Company
In honour of International Women's Day, we hear from one of our very own, Suzanne Dowman on her experiences as a woman working with all things AML and taking parental leave when being involved in a fast paced and developing industry.
The Challenge of Work Life Balance
In the world of AML, you may turn your head away for a brief moment and be met with a series of business updates, alterations to regulations, captivating news articles or office birthday parties bombarding you upon return. For reasons such as these, going onto parental leave for AML related employment can be exciting but daunting when working in such a fast paced industry. You have the pending arrival of your little bundle of joy, but the potential isolation from the work and colleagues that are important to you.
Approaching parental leave in a positive frame of mind not only allowed me to enjoy my time away from my role, but also to bring new skills back to it when I return - if you have ever had to negotiate with a toddler you will understand that it not only helps you with problem solving skills but much more, the ultimate 'mum skill'... negotiation (oh, and snack provider). In a client-centric company such as the TIC Co, negotiation is an important skill within our team, regardless of whether or not you are a brand spanking new analyst, or are part of the furniture.
While taking the time to raise the future of AML (start em’ young), I have found that it is so important to keep up to date with all things AML and stay in the loop during parental leave. This doesn’t have to be extreme; smaller things I have found that help are being subscribed to the ATTIC Newsletters and Magazine, following LinkedIn profiles that share insight into the interesting world of AML, and staying in contact with fellow AML colleagues and friends.
"Consciously work on keeping that relationship with the team member on parental leave."
An Ingrained Issue
I think that many organisations tend to unintentionally withdraw from team members on parental leave, whether this is due to workloads taking up so much time that the time of absence flies by, or not wanting to 'intrude' on the time a parent has with their new family member. In situations like this, time spent on parental leave can sometimes make the team members in mention feel a little segregated from the organisation and colleagues.
I believe that by consciously working on keeping that relationship with the team member on parental leave, can not only help the team member, but also show others in the organisation that going on extended leave is not a negative thing. This could be as simple as sending a GIF via message (who doesn't love a good GIF) or a simple "How are you?" email; quick, easy but with so much meaning it can brighten the day for someone or give them the opportunity to talk about struggles they may be having.
Not only does this give the parent on leave the opportunity to talk but also the organisations the opportunity to help.
The Aunts and Uncles Programme
TIC Co. has recently implemented a new approach to provide support during parental leave, The Aunts and Uncles Programme. This is an active way to ensure that team members on parental leave do not 'drop off the radar', can remain 'in the loop' and do not get missed off of crucial invitations to celebrations, feedback sessions and company developments.
I have appreciated this in my current parental leave as it has shown me that this isn't just a thing someone has been given to "do"; it has been carefully thought of and takes into consideration the sometimes anxious times that team members can have when going on parental leave and becoming parents for the first, second or even fifth time.
In essence, there are so many things that can be done to make parental leave a more enjoyable experience while accounting for a fast paced industry, whether these be personal efforts such as a scroll through LinkedIn in the afternoon (or the wee hours of the morning), or a company wide initiative like The Aunts and Uncles Programme.
"The relationship between starting a family and between professionalism and industry should not be an ultimatum over career or child, but more so provide an opportunity to develop a better work-life balance."