IHG Hotels & Resorts is proactively advancing gender equality in the workplace through tangible new benefits in support of working parents and carers. IHG’s recent partnership with Busy Bees Nurseries in the UK, offers discounted childcare services and provides financial relief and flexibility for working parents.
According to the 2023 Women in Work Index by PwC, this latest study points out that, since the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK's widening gender pay gap is due primarily to rising childcare costs and leading many women to exit the workforce.
Financial Relief and Flexibility
The innovative partnership, which started mid-April, is based on research within the company which focused on ways to help new parents––particularly mothers––manage childcare and career responsibilities. Joanna Kurowska, Managing Director UK&I at IHG Hotels & Resorts, explained that, “we have a commitment to champion a diverse culture where everyone can thrive, and as part of IHG’s “Room to Belong” promise to its colleagues we are always looking at how to enable our Teams to bring their best selves to work. ” Joanna added that, “The cost of childcare is significant, and we understand the demands faced by working parents and carers when it comes to balancing their work and home - which is why we had to offer a meaningful discount and an enhanced benefit”
We have a commitment to champion a diverse culture where everyone can thrive, and as part of IHG’s “Room to Belong” promise to its colleagues we are always looking at how to enable our Teams to bring their best selves to work. –– Joanna Kurowska, Managing Director, UK&I at IHG Hotels & Resorts
After a thorough process, IHG made the strategic decision to select Busy Bees. With over 400 centres across the UK, this ensures that parents and carers have coverage near IHG’s 10 owned, leased and managed hotels, as well as its two office hubs – which includes its global headquarters in Windsor. Another bonus is that, whether employees require full-time or part-time childcare, Busy Bees offers flexible options, which is particularly convenient for teams with varying shift patterns. IHG aims to tackle the cost issue head-on by providing employees with a 20% discount. Orla Allen, Global Talent Manager – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion explained that “Depending on where the employee is located in the UK, the discount can be worth on average up to £3,500 per full time child, per year. So, if you have two small kids, this can be a savings of around £7,000,” adds Allen.
IHG is piloting this partnership in the UK with hopes of offering a variety of solutions to support to colleagues around the world. Allen shared that, “It really depends on the country and region, we ensure we make market appropriate decisions in some parts of Europe for example, there is more government-sponsored childcare. In regions such as SEAK and resort locations, we are looking at offering onsite childcare options.” They can then provide a menu of potential solutions for local teams to implement the one that best fits their needs
Increased Parental Leave
The partnership with Busy Bees is part of IHG's comprehensive parental leave options. In the UK, corporate colleagues can take up to one year of maternity and adoption leave, with six months at full pay. Paternity leave allows for six months of leave, with three months at full pay and an optional unpaid period. Shared parental leave options are also available.
IHG continues to explore different flexible working arrangements to further support carers and parents .
New Report Highlights Pandemic Setbacks
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has set back progress toward gender equality in the workforce by at least two years globally, according to the PwC Report. The study highlights that the UK's gender pay gap has widened, primarily due to rising childcare costs, exacerbating the "motherhood penalty" and leading many women to exit the workforce.
PwC's Women in Work index reveals that the UK's average pay gap has increased by 2.4 percentage points to 14.4% in 2021. This widening gap signifies a setback in achieving gender parity within UK companies. At the current pace, it is projected to take over 50 years to bridge the gender pay gap completely, as estimated by PwC.