Home and hybrid working has flipped the traditional 9am to 5pm working day on its head, but have they made it easier for c-suite insurtech executives? Insurance Times speaks to four fathers in senior roles to find out

Gone are the days of the nuclear family, when the husband was expected to be the sole breadwinner for the family while the wife – typically a housewife – was responsible for housework and rearing children.

In today’s world it is quite normal for both parents to work and this has been made easier with the advent of remote working.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 75.6% of mothers and 92.1% of fathers were working in the UK, according to data gathered between April and June 2021.

In comparison, in the same period in 2005, 90.3% of fathers worked while just 67.7% of mothers did.

Despite the growth in mothers working, pressures remain for both parents. For those in senior positions in insurtechs, these pressures can be acute due to the often small size of the businesses.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Andre Symes, co-chief executive of Genasys, said: “The challenge when it comes to being a c-suite level executive and a father is getting understanding from your peers that your family is important too.

“There’s still a lot of old school thinking unfortunately, but it is changing.”

Symes is a father to 15-month year old boy, Seb. He explained that it is almost expected of him that he remain always available for business social functions. 

“That’s where the pressure comes in,” he added.

For Symes, there needs to be a shift in this mentality throughout c-suite culture towards an emphasis on a healthy balance between work and family time. 

Empowering role

For James York, founder of Peaccce and father to three children, there is a well-being strand that comes with being a parent.

York said: “Working environments must acknowledge that they can give a little back to someone’s self-identity by acknowledging that parents are being pulled in three directions. It is tough to juggle family, work and the gym.

“It is actually stressful if you are in a meeting and your child comes into the room – young children don’t understand that their father is on a call so it does help if you have some private professional space you can retreat to.”

However, York added that becoming a father was a powerful experience for him, but “you need to also acknowledge that you are going to burn yourself out”. 

York continued: “I found it empowering becoming a father – my reasons and ambition for everything changed, I have a different kind of fuel,” York said. ”Like motherhood, there are lots of different fatherhood experiences that I think companies should take the time to understand.” 

On a similar note, Adam Rimmer, FloodFlash’s co-founder and chief executive, said: “You are under pressure from the business, your family and ultimately yourself. Fathers are expected to help out with the kids in a way they weren’t maybe fifty years ago.

”You’ve also got to provide for them and to do this you need to do the best you can at work. There is pressure from the team, the board, customers and all of your stakeholders to deliver. As with many things the key resource is time and that’s a finite resource that can be difficult to manage.”

When asked if he thought the nuclear family structure had shifted, York added: “I think it’s something for each family to establish, it comes down to the preference between the parents and the financial situation and what you know how they want to co-parent the child. But it [the nuclear family] has evolved – it’s different.”

Shift to hybrid working 

Symes said that technology has improved his ability to connect with his family when travelling for work, since he can call his son every day, for example.

He said: “You have a little baby for a very short time, you don’t want to miss your kid’s first steps. I took Seb to school on his first day in his new class. With working from home, we should allow employees the flexibility to be able to do that.”

Like Symes, Rimmer agreed the shift to hybrid working had eased pressures, although his twins Otto and Felix have not made a debut in the boardroom as yet. 

Rimmer typically works from home two days a week. He said: ”With our new-born twins it means I can watch them for two minutes whilst my wife can do something else. You are around to help more, even if it’s for very short times. That can be very useful – particularly when you are man-marking more than one child.”

UK chief executive at ManyPets, Oke Eleazu, said hybrid working has allowed him to become a football coach for his son’s team on a weekday evening.

He said that he left the corporate world 15 years ago to start his own consultancy business because he was tired of working in such a demanding, structured role.

”I thought that I would be able to spend more quality time with my family – and that’s exactly what happened,” Eleazu added. 

“That’s why deciding to join ManyPets six years ago was so difficult. I just didn’t want to give up that flexibility. However, I insisted that I work from home every Friday and as a start-up, it was very flexible.”

Lockdown improved this flexibility. Eleazu said: “I discovered the freedom I once had and I am not keen to give it up”. He credits hybrid working with “changing his life”.


Is paternity and maternity leave and pay substantial enough?

In the UK, women are entitled to 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave, with 90% of the mother’s weekly earnings provided for the first six weeks. The following 33 weeks provide a weekly allowance of £156.66 or 90% of their average weekly earnings – whichever is lower.

For paternity leave, fathers can take up to two weeks off work and are entitled to £156.66 a week or 90% of their weekly earnings – whichever is lower.

Adam Rimmer, co-founder and chief executive mentioned the work of Harvard economist Claudia Goldin, who highlighted the parental leave gap as the biggest factor in contributing to the gender pay gap.

James York, founder of Peaccce, said he didn’t take any paternity leave for his three children largely because he was on his own running his business and didn’t have a choice. 

Rimmer said: “The counterintuitive solution to the gender pay gap is to improve paternity pay so that women can go back to work quicker. For many couples it is obvious who had to go back to work because one partner gets paid more.

”That’s what I want to work towards at FloodFlash. The reality is that as a startup we are balancing this against costs and absences are felt much more acutely when you have a smaller team.

”When the twins arrived, I only took only two weeks off. We are working towards more equal parental leave so that future FloodFlash parents can spend more time with their new family.”