A few years ago, both Sam Jackson and Robbie Gibbons chose to go part time at Accenture. But their decisions haven’t hindered their senior management careers.
Sam and Robbie joined Accenture around the same time in 2004 straight from university. Marriage and children happened for both and, as their careers progressed towards senior management levels, they each chose to go part-time. We sat down with them for a conversation to find out the benefits of part-time working and how they are still advancing their careers.
Hours that suit
“I went down to four days a week in 2014 after the birth of my first son so that I could help look after him while my wife continued her career as a lawyer; then I reduced it by another day in 2017,” says Sam. “I gave up a chunk of my salary to do this so I’m pretty strict about protecting my family time. My normal week is now three days in work, three days with my family and one day for me. I’m part-owner of a small plane and love to take it up if the weather’s nice. But Accenture benefits too. Working part-time I feel more engaged and energetic.”
“I’m on an 80% contract,” says Robbie. “My working days are usually Monday to Thursday, with a broadly 50/50 split between days in the office and working from home. I chose to make Friday my usual day off to care for my kids. I have to be a bit flexible over the hours I put in during the week – and a few times a year I will spend a week or so travelling internationally which needs extra cover – but if you plan well, your work-life balance can be great.”
So, has going part time affected their career development?
“I’ve definitely progressed in the last few years,” says Sam. “My goal is to move up from Senior Manager to Managing Director, a big promotion to achieve at Accenture regardless of whether you’re full or part time. I’m working on it, but since my first Senior Manager role I’ve certainly moved onto bigger and more complex things in terms of projects, clients and team management.”
“I can track my career growth since going part time,” says Robbie. “As well as growing in my current role and taking on more responsibility, I was promoted to Associate Director in 2018 – a clear indicator that at Accenture it’s possible to achieve career growth while working part time.”
“I’m fortunate that my leadership have actively sought to protect my non-working days, and my colleagues also respect it. But I also make clear that if very urgent issues come up I can provide input or advice – managing that balance of availability works well for me and for the business,” says Robbie.
Sam has to manage client expectations. “Some clients say to me that they wished they could have had my hours when they had children,” he says. “They know measures are in place, so they have what they need when I’m not working.”
Shared Parental Leave
Paternity leave was a trigger for both Sam and Robbie to go part time.
“I took Shared Parental Leave (SPL) when my second son arrived,” says Sam. “Accenture was offering full pay, not the statutory minimum, so maternity and paternity pay was equal. From that time, I’ve been able to take more hands-on responsibility for looking after them than I would have done working five days a week.”
Robbie agrees: “Taking SPL really set the tone for our parenting approach, enabling my wife and I to set a more equal balance for our responsibilities (and the fun stuff!) right from the start.”
Gender pay gap
There’s another important issue involved here – as Sam explains:
“If society is serious about tackling the gender pay gap, we need to be serious about encouraging men to take up some of the childcare mantle, and not just assume it’s the mother’s responsibility. I’m incredibly proud that Accenture gives men a meaningful salary when they’re on childcare leave, and if more employers did the same I think it could have a very positive impact.”
“It boils down to the expectations we set in terms of who has which role in the family,” Robbie adds. “Shared parental leave benefits that are on a par with maternity leave offers families the space to achieve a more balanced set of expectations, if that’s what they choose to do.”
Both Sam and Robbie see men working part-time as being part of Accenture’s wider diversity agenda, which they’re 100% behind.
According to Robbie, “by later in 2019 Accenture’s growth means we could have around 500,000 employees globally. You simply can’t achieve that headcount growth without making the firm an attractive place to work. That means we have to be welcoming to people of all backgrounds and aspirations; and I think Accenture has taken some pretty impressive steps to enable everyone to bring their authentic self to work.” He adds that “we also have an incredible record over the past few years in improving diversity at both junior and senior levels – there’s much more to do, but it’s rewarding to work at a company where diversity is taken very seriously.”
Sam has seen first-hand what Accenture has done to be more inclusive. “I’m on our Accent on Family committee. This is a network of employees interested in family issues in their widest sense. We organise events so parents and caregivers can share experiences and advice – just spending half an hour talking is invaluable. I also help prepare briefings for Senior Leadership. When I look at the packs, our diversity stats are right up there with our financial results. That’s great to see.”
Both Sam and Robbie have achieved their personal work-life balance and embraced all that Accenture can offer our people. Read more about our I&D initiatives and discover how you too could grow your career with us.