Paulina, you knew you wanted to be a working mum and you didn’t think about WHETHER to combine family and professional life or not, you just went on straight to the HOW! You know, this approach is similar to my own, but it is not so obvious.
Indeed, from the very beginning, even at the stage of applying for a job, I knew what to expect from myself and from my employer, and the day-to-day problems of a working mum. That is why, when I considered joining BNY Mellon Poland, I discussed the options of working remotely with my manager in London, for example when a child is ill, as well as having access to a company laptop and flexible working hours. My needs were fully understood.
Often, we, women are afraid to talk about our needs, thinking that this would be a problem and we would therefore be disqualified already at the recruitment stage. Nothing could be further from the truth! I believe that we should always strive for open communication, not just when we already work for a given company, but at every stage.
Thank you, this is something that many of us would not even think about. But please tell me what do you do every day? What are your responsibilities?
I am a Senior HR Business Partner and Head of the Human Resources Department for Poland. I am responsible for the entire HR function in the company, adapting it to the global HR strategy and skilfully applying it in the context of the local company strategy. I meet with internal business clients every day to discuss their strategic priorities, but also their everyday issues, and of course with my colleagues in the HR Department to figure out how to support the business. I also participate in many regional and local HR projects.
You are the mother of two boys yourself, and you also have mums on your team. What are the benefits introduced by BNY Mellon Poland that are crucial for you and that make being a working mum easier?
I am a mother of a school-age boy and a toddler who goes to a nursery, so the needs of my sons can sometimes be quite varied because of the age difference. What has always been a key element of work for me is the ability to work remotely and the flexible working hours. I am able to manage my own working time, adjusting it to the many household responsibilities. And I am no longer surprised at joining teleconferences during earlier drives home, calling late evenings or early mornings when the children are still asleep and finishing up my e-mails or making presentations.
BNY Mellon in Poland provides a range of benefits that can be useful to working parents at any stage. We provide funding for nursery/kindergarten, coaching for parents through parenting groups, we provide a cafeteria system which is a great solution for planning leisure time with your children, etc.
I think that the most important benefit that we offer on the Wrocław market as one of the few companies is our own nursery and a bilingual kindergarten, subsidised by the employer. The facility is conveniently located at the ground floor of the BNY Mellon building in Wrocław. It has a well-developed nutritional and educational programme and our children have early experience of another language: English. I think that this opens up the opportunity of learning about other cultures which is extremely important in shaping young minds.
Oh yes, definitely. But beginning from January 2021, BNY Mellon will be introducing a rather unique benefit, which is the opportunity to use a qualified babysitter. I have a feeling it will be a favourite among many parents. Can you tell us more about it?
We are planning to introduce a nanny-per-hour service for parents working in our company. This benefit is also available to our colleagues in the US and EMEA region. The service will include a set of nanny-hours/month/employee offered by a professional carer from the agency we work with. Of course, this opens up a number of possibilities for the parent: help to focus on work while the child is ill, or possibly free time for the parent while the nanny takes care of the child.
Most definitely! Where did this idea come from? You already have a kindergarten and a nursery which places you among 2% of employers in Poland anyway!
The kindergarten and nursery are our in-house facilities. I am glad that we can indeed boast of a unique benefit on the Wrocław market. However, it is, after all, a great support for parents and is one of our aims at helping to assure a successful and long-term relationship with our employees. The babysitter agency service is a help that employees can use without leaving home. I think it is equally important, because there are many unplanned situations that surprise us – and then we can count on assistance of a professional nanny.
Let me get back for a moment to your recent maternity leave. Your younger son is 1.5 years old, so that wasn’t so long ago. What’s important for both a mother who is on maternity leave and an employer so that their relationship would be mutually understanding?
Open communication and constant contact with the manager, colleagues, etc. are, I think, the foundation for this. We must not forget that work is also an important part of our lives, and that maternity leave will someday come to an end. I benefited from the fact that I was constantly in touch with my manager, even though he lives and works in London, so it was not so obvious. We have had regular monthly telephone calls where my manager kept me informed about changes that were taking place or about ongoing projects. Therefore, there were no surprises for me when I got back to work. The relationships with colleagues, team members and co-workers are also very important in order to maintain a positive atmosphere, to discuss what is currently going on – this gives us a sense of being up to date with different topics. We don’t feel excluded after we return. Of course there are various situations in life, but as far as possible, I think we should have the maximum possible contact with the employer.
And what has helped you when you returned to work?
Again, open communication. My manager was aware of my home situation, that I have an older son who also needs my care, that my husband and I are both active professionals. I think that the time after returning from maternity leave is the most difficult for a working mother and for the whole family. At that point we should not be afraid to ask for help – it is the time when we need it very much. That is when we often start to wonder “Am I a good mother?”, “Am I a good employee?”.
We should speak openly about our problems, and ask for support where possible. We shouldn’t judge others and we should cut ourselves some slack. Let’s give up perfectionism! If possible, let’s share our responsibilities with our partner.
You’ve said a lot about support for mothers, but BNY Mellon also emphasises the role of fathers. What initiatives are you taking in this regard?
BNY Mellon supports all its employees, including working parents, whether it’s a mother or a father. They both have an equally important role. Equality is a fundamental value for BNY Mellon. As I said, we have a number of benefits for all working parents and working fathers are keen to get involved, they organise discussions within the parenting group, they come to office with their children (Bring Your Child to Work), they attend our Santa Claus events.
I have to ask you, who are you looking for for your teams? What competences and skills do you need to have to find a job at BNY Mellon?
I think the opportunities at BNY Mellon are really very extensive. We are looking for both experienced experts, specialists in finance, risk management and compliance, IT and others; but also people with no professional experience who want to start their career in the financial world. A very important aspect that we always focus on are soft skills, including communication and cooperation, and a commitment to common values that contribute to BNY Mellon’s inclusive culture.
And these last months of the pandemic, how have you reorganised work to facilitate it for parents with children at home? Have any solutions worked particularly well for you?
We’re committed to supporting our employees’ physical and mental wellbeing regardless of the situation, however the pandemic stressed the need for compassion, empathy and understanding at work across the globe. All employees at BNY Mellon have unlimited access to an award-winning Wellbeing Programme which provides a variety of options and resources to help us improve and maintain our physical health, emotional resilience, financial security and social connections. Apart from that, as one of our most recent initiatives, we’ve introduced a weekly employee experience monitoring tool which helps us understand our staff condition even better and act if need be.
One of my favourite initiatives though did not involve any tools or special projects – Working Together Pledge. The pledge is a simple way for each BNY Mellon employee to show we are committed to caring for the wellbeing of our loved ones, our colleagues and ourselves. This initiative proved a very powerful means to recognize the professional and personal challenges we all face individually and as teams in these unprecedented times.
Any last thought you would like to share with a mother, who is considering going back to work?
I can imagine the vast amount of thoughts that a mother might now have in her mind when returning to work. This is not an easy time. I would advise such a person to share all her concerns with her manager, her team, her colleagues. This is absolutely not our weakness, rather it helps to work through their doubts. Let’s set ourselves small goals and achieve them step by step. I wish only successes to all working parents ☺
Thank you very much!
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Pictures: BNY Mellon and Paulina Nozdryń – Płotnicka