Inspiring Women - Rachael Ramsey - Shared parental leave really worked for us.
Mark Freed / 29 Oct 2018
“We were told we could never have children so when I fell pregnant after being at One Savings Bank for a few months, it was a bit of a shock!”
This is how my career as a surveyor at One Savings Bank began. After two degrees in the sciences, two ski seasons in the winter and teaching English in the summer, and working for a pharmaceutical company, I had finally found something which I really enjoyed. My career in surveying had begun at GL Hearn, a commercial property consultancy where I performed business rates’ audits, using the analytical skills I’d gained through my chemistry degrees. Observing what the surveyors did and the variety within the role, I decided to pursue this career path, GL Hearne helping me to gain qualifications in estate management.
I moved to One Savings Bank, about to sit the chartership exams when I discovered I was pregnant. I was determined to make this new role work; I felt guilty that they had hired me and I was already scheduling time away for maternity leave. I hadn’t been at One Savings Bank long enough to benefit from their maternity package and so my husband, Matt, an accountant at a university, and I decided to try something new – shared parental leave. We knew that this wasn’t common-place, but it felt as though it was going to work for us. In 2013, we didn’t realise how ‘pioneering’ we were.
I took five months maternity leave (the new baby stage when we didn’t know what we were doing) and Matt, took the subsequent four months (the stage when babies are much more interesting!). After the standard two weeks’ paid leave for new fathers, Matt received statutory shared parental pay (ShPP) provisions - his employer had been surprised at his request to share leave with me. Nowadays there are some firms that will support male parental leave but they remain few and far between.
Shared parental leave really worked for us and it has set the foundations for a lifetime of equal parenting. Matt and Jessica were able to bond from very early on and Jessica doesn’t see any differences in our roles - we both work, we both cook, share bedtimes etc. Matt is a very confident dad as he knows he can cope with a variety of situations.
For me it’s meant that I can relax more and I’ve learnt to step back- does it matter that she has messy hair? Does it matter that Dad selects clothes that clash? Does it matter that she’s being swung upside down by her legs? No, because she is having fun with her dad! So many women assume the primary responsibility even on weekends (I’ve seen my sisters)- packing lunches, snacks, getting them dressed and then wonder why their husbands step back. It’s these unconscious habits that we need to stop. Don’t get me wrong I’m not sat there with my feet up but I would be just as likely as Matt to perform stereotypical “men’s jobs” like washing the car or mowing the lawn! He feels more at ease with the ballet mums than I do!
After the nine months’ leave, our daughter went to nursery and we both returned to full time employment. I felt like a trailblazer at One Savings Bank as a mum working full-time and sometimes that was difficult, but I remained professional and ensured I did the job well.
More recently, I have realised that I need more balance in my life and I’ve secured greater flexibility in the hours I work, working from home one day a week. I don’t want to be ten years further on and realise that I didn’t speak out to achieve greater balance between my family and working life.
At One Savings Bank I’m proud of what I’ve achieved professionally and at home, I’m proud of our shared approach to parenting. I would love to be able to be a role model to other women coming into the industry and the business, to help them learn from the career path I have taken.
Read other stories in the Inspiring Women Series
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