Eighteen years ago Christina Dove set the standard by being one of the first employees to return from maternity leave as a team leader working four days a week. She has since gone on to grow and develop her career to become Head of Strategy & Deployment for Mercer Marsh Benefits, EuroPac – all whilst working part time.
The accidental role model
Christina found herself becoming a role model when she considered moving back to full time hours. To her surprise, her colleagues made it clear they didn’t want her to do this as her part time working arrangement was setting a positive example to them and other employees. This really resonated with Christina, who, since then, has taken it upon herself to support and help men and women at Mercer to achieve their career goals whilst working part time or flexible hours.
There is such a thing as part time career progression
Quite simply, Christina passionately believes that working part time shouldn’t hinder career progression. She feels there is sometimes a perception, especially from employees who are working mums, that they can’t have a career whilst working part time and bringing-up children. She works with them to help change that mind-set: “You’re at work 21 hours a week, of course you can have a career…just do it”, says Christina.
To achieve this, Christina is very clear: “be organised and methodical”. The work an employee does within their working hours needs to be of a good standard. At Mercer they have personal development plans and she encourages employees to really use these plans to help with career development. She makes it clear to them that; “If you have the right development in place and hit all the goals within it, then why can’t you be promoted if there is a position available?”
The response to this approach has been really positive. Christina’s proudest achievement to date is to see other part time women, whom she has mentored, or managed, achieve promotion.
Christina doesn’t believe the role model approach has to be a formal one, but she does believe it is important for organisations to create an informal culture where this is possible. For her, “a diverse team is really important” as it brings about a range of viewpoints and experience, so helping colleagues and employees will help achieve this.
Christina takes her position as a role model seriously and takes “great pleasure” in helping people. She believes it is important that people in senior roles do become role models to help other employees, especially women, to increase their worth and confidence in the workplace.