PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada is improving its parental leave policy with specialized coaching and leadership training for employees.

As part of its Me + PwC program, the company conducted listening tours with employees, with the feedback including more support for parents, says Sonia Boisvert, a partner and chief people officer at PwC Canada. “Being a parent myself, I knew it isn’t easy to go on [maternity] leave and come back in the consulting space. So we wanted to provide support for everybody [taking that parental journey].”

A few other key concerns stood out in the listening tours related to parental leave, says Lisa Rosen, the organization’s benefits, pension and well-being leader. “One of them was just the overwhelming feeling of what to do and where to find information. So step one is bringing all the information together and making it user-friendly. [Another concern] was when [employees] have questions, they want to know their manager or boss has the information to answer those questions.”

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To facilitate access to information, PwC developed a parenting hub, a website that clearly shows the steps employees need to take depending on where they are in the leave process.

The next step is visioning, which is where the coaching comes in, says Rosen. Before a parental leave, employees have access to three coaching sessions through a third-party provider to talk through their vision for parental leave. This includes topics like how to develop a transition plan, addressing concerns and how to tell colleagues and clients.

Employees are supported through the entire journey, adds Rosen, noting they have access to the coach and resources during the leave period, as well as three more group coaching sessions when they return from leave to discuss shared experiences.

The other part of the new parental leave improvements is training for leaders. “It’s quarterly management training run by our third-party provider in conjunction with us,” says Rosen. “We also developed a toolkit for leaders that they can access through the parenting hub. We’re upskilling them so that, when someone returns from initial coaching or when they return to work, they’re met with a leader who understands the various challenges people may experience and who is welcoming towards their reintegration.”

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Both Boisvert and Rosen agree these improvements will help with employee attraction and retention. “As a parent, I know you don’t have to choose between a career and a family — you can have both,” says Boisvert. “And that’s where I want to inspire people. I did it myself. I have twins and they were very sick at the beginning; they were very premature. So yes, there are bumps along the way, but it is possible.”

The improvements align with the company’s benefits strategy as a whole, adds Rosen, and reflect the diversity of its employees, recognizing all types of parents.

PwC Canada is also a gold sponsor of Women in Capital Markets and is one of the employers that has signed its parental leave pledge. “We’re trying to encourage more men and non-birthing parents to participate in the leave process,” she says. “As more and more non-birthing parents take advantage of leaves, it equalizes the playing field for women.

“It was really important for us to address all parents because we need everyone to be part of that solution.”

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