A case of getting maternity leave before works starts

BY HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 20, 2019

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The circumstances that characterised an arrangement between a potential executive and the leadership of J Wray & Nephew Ltd are not things that you see and hear every day.

For Tanikie McClarthy Allen, the company's Senior Director of public affairs & sustainability and CEO of the J Wray & Nephew Foundation, her taking up a job offer at the largest distributor of liquor in Jamaica would almost never have happened four years ago. She was pregnant with her first child when the opportunity arose.

But shocking to her, the company kept her listed on its 'Most Wanted' poster, for the right reasons and would stop at nothing to get its targeted woman.

So the ground was soon paved, and the welcome home party sensitised to start rehearsing for the latest addition to the corporate giant.

“When I got the call from the headhunter, I was with a regional group that has a large footprint, and I said I am interested but I am pregnant, which would have meant a closed door for a lot of other companies,” McClarthy Allen said as she recounted her story to newspaper journalists in an interview at J Wray & Nephew recently.

“The recruiter said to me: 'that is not a hindrance for joining this company,' and throughout the recruitment process that was affirmed. I had persons who adjusted their schedule to accommodate me for when I was available and at no point did it become a negative. They went for the talent that they wanted, the skill set that they wanted, and made allowances for family.

“Immediately, that was the game changer and it allowed for Wray & Nephew to stand out from the other companies. It endeared me to the company and it brought about immediate loyalty,” she stated.

Executives of the company were speaking against the background of the progressive movement of women within the company's senior management ranks, now numbering eight of 11.

In fact, a record of sorts was set, as maternity leave, introduced by Prime Minister Michael Manley during the 1970s, was offered to her, at least a part of the mandatory three months, before she had even started the new job.

“Before I got into this company, I got maternity leave. This company recruited me and offered me a month's maternity leave. That told me they were serious about selecting the best recruit and serious about making allowances so that their employees can attend to family. And I have seen that represented over the last three years as I have navigated the role of mother, wife and executive,” continued McClarthy Allen.

Has she ever heard of such a scenario occurring elsewhere?

“This is not unique to Jamaica, it happened to another Campari Group colleague in Australia, who was also recruited by Campari during pregnancy. It's a part of how the Campari Group does business,” McClarthy Allen said.

McClarthy Allen's recent promotion to senior director seems to have validated the company's recruitment process, as in a notification of her promotion, Managing Director Jean-Philippe Beyer said: “Since her appointment as director of public affairs & Sustainability on July 1, 2016, Tanikie has led initiatives that have resulted in significant savings to the business unit; raised the corporate profile of J Wray & Nephew; operationalised the JWN Foundation; and created and implemented stakeholder and community engagement strategies that have greatly improved our relationships with these groups.”

McClarthy Allen is proud of the achievements thus far but counts the growth and the impact of the JWN Foundation as her proudest achievement. “In three years we have moved the number of community scholarships allocated from 25 to 200, driven a major intervention initiative. 'Focused on Boys', renovated the Middlesex Infant School and driven investments into programmes that affect the day-to-day lives of residents in our communities.”


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