The first Work & Family Show took place at the ExCeL London this weekend, attracting thousands of career break women and working parents through the doors.
More than 80 inspirational speakers shared their perspectives on topics including women in the workplace, how to get a healthy work life balance and how to find a new job after having a family or start up your own business.
The Show began with a lively debate on the future of work and family with the Liberal Democrat MP and Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs, Jenny Willott, John Timpson, the founder of Timpson’s and member of the Women’s Business Council and Vicky Pryce, the Economist and Business Consultant.
All three panellists agreed that big changes still need to be made politically and culturally to ensure that women have more flexibility when returning to work after having a family. They agreed that businesses’ failure to help their employees in their transition from working woman to working mum was causing huge losses to the UK economy.
When the topic around whose responsibility it was to help change culture to support growth arose, Jenny Willott and John Timpson agreed that the transition must be business-led with employers considering gender equality throughout their whole companies – not just at board level.
Vicky Pryce vehemently disagreed arguing that the Government needed to do more to support employers and employees. She highlighted the lack of equality in the finance industry and the importance of gender quotas throughout businesses to help accelerate cultural change.
All three agreed that flexible working is a ‘must’ with John Timpson saying that he “imagines us all to be working flexibly one day.” One panel on the topic that proved hugely popular was a debate on how flexible can you be where speakers including Sarah Jackson from Working Families, Jo Lewis from Sky, Harriet Minter from The Guardian and Claire Cavallucci from Regus sharing their insight into how they’ve made it work.
It is the first time that the Show has taken place and was set up by My Family Care and Clarion Events, organisers of the hugely popular Baby Show which took place next door.
Ben Black, Founder of My Family Care said: “We have been very proud of the success of the event and the positive turn out. The pure numbers of people through the doors show that this is a massive topic that has been crying out to be touched on ever since women have taken such a prominent role in the workplace. With the shared parental leave changes and the right for everyone to request flexible working coming soon people have a lot of questions that the Show has helped answer.”
Doug Richard, founder of School for Startups, shared his advice on alternative funding saying that “last year more people started a business in the UK than ever in the history of the country.” A number of parent-friendly franchises were sharing their opportunities with parents keen to start up their own business.
Thiago Alves from Clarion Events, the organisers of The Work & Family Show says: “It has been a hugely successful show with a lot of interaction between those visiting, the speakers and the exhibitors. Those who attended had really done their research and came with a purpose of making a change in their lives for the better and we’ve had some brilliant feedback. There’s been a large amount of interest from businesses who came along who are keen to get involved next year so this is just the beginning as we anticipate 2015 to be even bigger.”
For more information on the Show visit www.theworkandfamilyshow.co.uk