Champions Discuss Work-Life-Balance and Family-Friendly Policies

On 22 June, eight Champions from across the IGC Network gathered for an IGC Time to Talk Conversation on Work-Life Balance and Family-Friendly Policies.

The session was chaired and convened by Ambassador Bard Ivar Svendsen of the Royal Norwegian Embassy to The Hague. Fellow Champions Salman Bal of CAGI, Dorothée Le Fraper du Hellen of Special Tribunal for Lebanon and Ambassador Annika Markovic of Sweden to The Netherlands, Ambassador Esther Monterrubio Villar of Spain to Vienna, Ambassador Heinz Walker-Nederkoorn of Switzerland to The Netherlands, Ambassador Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve of Belgium to Geneva and Ambassador Tine Mørch Smith of Norway to Geneva joined.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the global pandemic, we have had to re-arrange how we work. As a result, many people have been working from home, some with flexible hours, which has benefited some and presented a challenge for others. Challenges to consider include different home situations and resources that can be more or less conducive to a working environment, such as small and shared living spaces, childcare, cooking, cleaning and other home-centred responsibilities that cannot be balanced or separated from working hours when at home. Similarly, required work from the office or other workspace brings back the better-known pre-pandemic challenges of balancing home and family responsibilities with work, commuting times, etc.

This group of Champions addressed key components to Building Back Better with a gender and intersectional lens, asking: how do we observe the current work structures serving men and women differently? What should we be aiming for in terms of wellbeing and flexibility to meet the different needs of our colleagues?

The group of Champions also looked at upcoming challenges as we start to move between in-person and remote working, including the challenges and opportunities that present themselves when working in multilateral and bilateral fora.

Over 40 Champions have set a personal Commitment related to work-life balance and family-friendly policies, many of which are shifting in nature as we adjust to new ways of working.

This Time to Talk Conversation affirmed that work-life-balance is for everyone, along with:

  • The importance of holding a workplace that is welcoming of diversity and willing to meet different needs.

  • The critical component of flexibility and open communication.

  • Providing the option of in-person and virtual meetings.

  • The need to inspect regular late meetings within multilateral fora.

  • Setting supportive frameworks in the form of a Code of Conduct or a Wellbeing Framework.