Virgo London launches gender neutral family leave, plus women’s health policies

By Rebecca Hall, Group HR Director 

It’s no secret that women’s careers are impacted by starting a family, but there are many areas of women’s health and women’s lives that can contribute to a lack of career equity. That’s why today I’m pleased to announce Golin London and Virgo Health’s enhanced gender-neutral, family friendly leave, as well as our newly-updated women’s health policies.  

The comprehensive new programme of policies focusses on supporting women’s wellbeing through key life moments, tackling taboos, as well as to helping mothers and fathers to build a more equitable share of the care as they start their path as a family.  All policies were carefully developed in consultation with stakeholders from across the business, including our DEI Director and our employee relationship groups for working mothers and the LGBTQIA+ community.

FAMILY FRIENDLY LEAVE 

Our new gender-neutral policy on family friendly leave enables parents to benefit from two options for leave, depending on whether you are the primary or secondary caregiver. This policy is inclusive of whether the child may be yours or your partner’s child, adopted, or a surrogate child. We are also enhancing our family friendly pay up to six months full pay for our employees who are primary caregivers, regardless of gender, and 6 weeks paid leave for secondary careers. We’ve mirrored this in our Shared Parental Leave pay. 

We also updated our women’s health policies to empower our people to ask for the help they need in key life stages or if affected by women’s health conditions. One in 10 women live with difficult and painful symptoms from endometriosis, 1 in 4 women have left jobs due to feeling unwell due to menopause, and many women don’t feel supported or able to talk up in the workplace about difficult life moments around fertility, pregnancy loss and gynaecological health. Our suite of menopause, fertility, period and pregnancy loss policies, alongside our new partnership with The Eve Appeal which focuses on gynaecological health, aim to help build greater awareness and support for women’s health in the workplace.  

MENOPAUSE 

Our first new policy focuses on giving those experiencing the menopause the help and time they need to look after themselves, as well as knowledge and education for colleagues and line managers to ensure we collectively know how best to support each other.  The policy includes ten additional days paid leave for anyone experiencing the menopause, or for those supporting a friend or family member experiencing it.  

MENSTRUATION 

We are also introducing a menstruation policy to assist employees suffering from symptoms, or those with conditions such as Endometriosis, Dysmenorrhea, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) to name a few. We recognise that this can really impact our employees and our policy allows employees to take up to ten additional days paid leave to take some time out to focus on their wellbeing.  

FERTILITY & PREGNANCY LOSS 

We are also introducing a fertility policy, offering those going through fertility treatment, or supporting someone going through treatment, ten additional days paid leave. This is alongside a policy offering support and additional time, for anyone tragically impacted by pregnancy or baby loss.   

GYNAE HEALTH 

Through our partnership with the Eve Appeal, we also commit to being flexible and understanding, to breaking the taboos that exist around gynae health and creating a workplace that encourages women to attend life-saving screening appointments. To ensure we are raising awareness and guiding colleagues and line managers in how to support each other, each new policy will be accompanied by specific line management toolkits as well as workshops and webinars for employees. 

2022: The Year of Representation for Health Communications

By Sarah Gordon, Virgo Health, Managing Director

A global pandemic showed us the importance of inclusion in healthcare. The need to understand the impact of COVID on age groups, on those with comorbidities and on those from different communities showed us that not everyone has the same risk for the disease.  As health communicators we’re used to seeing disparities in risk but now as the world understands the critical need to “level up” we must make tackling inequalities in health a priority.

In the UK, we desperately need to improve outcomes amongst the poorest 20% of the population in conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, respiratory diseases, maternity care and mental health. We also know that people with limited financial and social resources are far more likely to have limited health literacy and this is linked to more hospital visits, longer hospital stays, poor adherence to treatment and increased mortality

We need to work harder to change this.

We must invest in proper research embedded in the communities we’re trying to reach to understand what will work. We need to test literacy levels and the language we use and while we know the right messengers are crucial, we also need to be more creative to make the messages count.

Our industry is up to the task and our teams and the new talent entering are more aware of the need for inclusion than ever before. Many campaigns are working harder to make a difference. At Virgo we’ve engaged women from diverse audiences for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’ve used rhythmic rhymes to reach men at risk of prostate cancer, voice tools to speak to people who can’t access patient information and we’re rethinking how we engage on social media to build online communities for people with diabetes.

There is a big job to do but the pandemic has also shown us the ability of the world to rapidly change behaviours to prevent illness as well as to learn – not least what a spike protein is, what antibodies do and how immunity wanes.  We have seen the power of what is possible and now we must step up.

First seen in PMLive May 2022.