By Nick Jeffery, Chief Executive Officer, Vodafone UK
I am very proud to report that our senior management colleague Helen Lamprell, General Counsel & Director of External Affairs, has been awarded an OBE [Officer (of the Order) of the British Empire] in the New Year Honours list for services to Business and Equality.
Helen, who has been a member of the Women’s Business Council for the last five years and co-chair of the Vodafone UK Women’s Network, has long been a champion of diversity in the workplace, with a particular passion for encouraging and supporting parents who decide to take a career break and then wish to return to work, whether full-time or flexibly.
Through our ReConnect programme, which she has ably supported, we offer networking and training to parents – mostly women who’ve taken time out to raise a family – so that they can regain the confidence, skills and opportunities to continue their careers.
A report written by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) in 2018, that we supported, showed that about 96 million skilled women aged between 30 and 54 were on career breaks worldwide, more than half of whom had experience at middle or senior management level. Our economies need these people back in the workplace.
Yet women who make this choice are often overlooked by recruiters, despite having relevant work experience and skills, all because there is a prolonged gap on their CVs. Helen was determined to address this fundamental injustice.
And not just at Vodafone. We partnered with the Women’s Business Council and the Government Equalities Office to publish a toolkit of best practices to help other employers set up their own returner programmes as well.
The research also found that 94% of women on maternity leave intended to return to work a year after the birth on average. But 20% of them didn’t. In fact, following a birth, mothers tend to reduce their working hours a lot and their hourly earnings grow much slower than the fathers’, resulting in a cumulative financial penalty for women who choose to start a family.
Our ReConnect programme is all about redressing these imbalances.
Helen is also rightly proud of our recently announced global policy to give any Vodafone employee whose partner is having a baby, adopts a child, or becomes a parent through surrogacy, the right to take up to 16 weeks paid leave at any time during the first 18 months.
She has also been working hard to encourage companies to employ more women in senior management roles. Our report – Driving Gender Diversity at the Top: 2019 & Beyond – was picked up by the BBC’s Worklife programme. Helen has particularly enjoyed hosting inspiring speakers as diverse as Gabby Logan, the sports presenter, and Eliza Manningham Buller, former director general of MI5.
She is also involved in many other diversity and inclusion projects, not least of which is our Connected Living programme, conducted with the charity Mencap. This wonderful initiative harnesses internet of things technologies to help people with learning difficulties live more independent and fulfilled lives.
Many congratulations to Helen. Her efforts, and those of her team, make Vodafone a truly great place to work.
- For the full New Year Hounours 2020 list click here.