We spoke to Alison Martin-Campbell about the network she established at EY
Why did the 40+ Network form at EY
I set up the network 2 years ago. This followed on from several issues I faced over a period of 5 years all coming to a head. These were health issues related to the menopause (chronic insomnia, repeat cystitis infections leading to a kidney infection on one occasion that necessitated 5 weeks off work and 2 hospitalisations, severe mood swings, anxiety, depression, hair loss, etc), my finances (I didn’t realise EY had changed pension provider and was struggling to find out where my pensions were held), care (I have elderly parents in their 80’s and in a short space of time, my mother had 3 strokes, a heart attack and 2 falls which all meant I had to leave the office suddenly and be out of the office to look after her and my father, coordinate care, etc). However, as time has gone on, the finances issue has gone away as EY has set up a forum called You + Your Money which parallels the issues I was trying to help with. It has been replaced by issues around ageing in the workplace and ageing & disability in the workplace.
How did you go about setting it up?
In relation to the health issues, I created a crib sheet with all the knowledge I had attained about the menopause, eg, symptoms and how to try and counteract them, supplements, exercise, diet, etc which several friends asked me to share with them which I did. I was at lunch with 3 of these friends in January 2017 and they said: ‘Alison, you should set up an EY Menopause Network’. I approached EY D&I and they felt a Menopause Network was too specific so after liaising with D&I, I started the process of setting up the EY 40+ Network. I found a sponsor partner and was allocated a mentor and the process began.
How many people are members?
- It is the smallest EY Network but we do have members all over EY’s UK offices.
What are its aims and objectives?
To share knowledge in middle age and beyond (but all ages are welcome to join!) and to make life as manageable as possible for those facing issues around health, care and ageing and disability.
How is it run i.e. do you hold events, gatherings etc?
I organise catch ups over lunch where we discuss a specific issue: I find if people share their experiences, it can make members feel less isolated, particularly if people are dealing with multiple issues. Eg, we have one member who is a carer for her elderly father with dementia but also has a severely autistic teenager. Where possible, I share information via Yammer (EY’s equivalent of Twitter), eg useful articles or reports. I have visited EY’s Birmingham office as this has the largest group of members after London. I introduced myself, met members and found out what their issues were. I am currently in the process of organising an Introductory Event in London on 14 March. I have two speakers lined up, one to talk about health and diet in middle age and beyond and one to talk about ageing and disability in the workplace. This will be followed by Q&A and a meet and greet.
Why do you think a network of this kind is useful to companies?
One of the reasons I set it up was because I thought I was the only person at EY having to deal with health issues around the menopause (which until very recently is a bit no-no in terms of discussing), care of ageing parents and trying to wrestle with my pension. Once I started talking and sharing, I realised that many people were facing similar issues to me. Once I started to open up, it made me feel better about what I was dealing with and in the course of the process in setting up the network, I have been supported by the firm and colleagues and in turn have been able to offer support to others.