Equal Lives with Santander UK: Putting Equal Lives into practice with the 'Becoming a Parent' toolkit

Elena Fatisi, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant at Santander UK, on how Santander UK are putting Equal Lives into practice

At Santander UK, we created our Becoming a Parent toolkit to bring together useful information in a way which is straightforward and easy to access.  This is an employee process which managers don’t go through often, and was also previously geared towards traditional routes to parenthood; pregnancy versus the many other ways in which we become parents or take on childcare responsibilities.
Through our employee-led networks, we engaged families and individuals who had chosen to adopt or foster, or who had gone through IVF, pregnancy, maternity and paternity.  We wanted to ensure we heard and represented a true diversity of perspectives and experiences from our employees – such as those with disabilities, members of ethnic minority communities, same sex couples, and individuals young and old.
With their input, we were able to create a toolkit which unites all relevant policies in one place, provides a checklist of practical support, gives guidance to line managers, and signposts the employee to our Parents and Carers network, which counts over 1,000 members.
More specifically, in our Becoming a Parent toolkit employees can find information on:
Maternity: this includes sources of support such as Tommy’s Accreditation Programme. This is an initiative developed to promote health in the workplace during pregnancy. As a member, employees are given access to an online members’ area which includes virtual guides, FAQs from other members and an ‘Ask Tommy’s midwife’ service;
Adoption:  including fostering, fostering to adopt, surrogacy, parental orders and special guardianships;
Shared Parental Leave;
Parental Leave; and
Useful information: childcare vouchers, private medical insurance, flexible working and other family-friendly benefits beyond the policies. 
The toolkit includes comprehensive information on each policy, relevant forms employees need to complete, and various frequently asked questions aiming to make the process simpler. In addition, we have created videos featuring employees sharing their experience on adoption, Keep in Touch days while on maternity leave, returning to work after maternity or adoption, preparing for leave and others. The videos also explain how Santander supports each employee throughout the process. Furthermore, we have developed flowcharts outlining in an accessible way each step every line manager and employee should take to utilise our suite of policies. 
Jessica Chu, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Santander UK, said: “The ‘Becoming a Parent’ guide is helping us make things Simple, Personal and Fair and minimise the time employees and line managers spend to find a policy.  Information is all in one place, with clear pointers on what to do by when.  Every parent should receive the support they need, and we hope our toolkit helps equip and support employees who embark on this exciting step!