Blog Post

How UBS Is Supporting Parents and Caregivers

January 3, 2023

For the 14th year, UBS was recognized by Seramount as one of the 100 Best Companies to work for. From UBS’s Career Comeback Program to expanded mental health and well-being benefits, the firm provides employees with the tools they need to thrive both at work and at home. We connected with UBS to learn about their initiatives and how the firm is helping their employees, especially during times of heightened stress, to ensure they succeed.

What programs and initiatives have helped support parent or caregiving employees at your company? Why have they specifically been so successful?

At UBS, we are proud to support our working parents and caregivers by offering access to , supportive employee networks and a substantial gender-neutral parental leave policy. These programs, along with our inclusive culture, help ensure that our working parents can continue to grow and develop to ensure they have successful careers.

In 2016, we developed the Career Comeback Program, an award-winning, direct hire program that provides professionals who have taken a 2+ year career break– and their line managers – with transition coaching, onboarding resources and connection to a global cohort. At UBS, we see a career break or change as a transferable skill that can bring professionals back to the corporate world stronger than ever. Diversity of experience, background, and thought are especially important to us.

Our firm has a number of Employee Networks, which build community, celebrate differences and similarities among members, educate colleagues, create opportunities for collaboration, enhance member visibility across the firm and support career development and internal mobility. Every network is open to all employees and we encourage those who do not identify with a certain community to join a network to learn more and become allies.

The Family Connections Network was originally established to serve as a discussion forum and support group for working parents to increase their retention and advancement by addressing work-life issues. Since its establishment, the network has grown to embrace all family members, including biological, adoptive, foster, stepparents, grandparents, single parents, partners, children, siblings and caretakers.

Our gender-focused network, All Bar None, engages, educates and empowers employees to promote the professional advancement of women at UBS and to champion the firm’s vision, values, and strategies. These networks offer support and allyship to women, caretakers, and parents, and they are an essential part of our DE&I strategy and culture of belonging.

We also offer traditional, virtual and reverse mentoring for employees, as well as sponsorship opportunities. For example, our Asset Management division leverages a virtual mentoring platform, which provides employees with the ability to anonymously voice opinions and seek advice from senior leaders. On this platform, employees can ask about a variety of topics, including navigating the workplace as a working parent. In 2022, we implemented a senior sponsorship program across the firm to support the advancement of diverse talent into senior roles and will be expanding the program throughout the region in 2023. 

The last two years have been far from easy for caregivers. What programs and initiatives have helped retain caregiving employees successfully? Why have they specifically been so successful?

UBS has always been committed to our employees’ health and well-being. Specifically, over the past two years, we’ve expanded existing mental health and well-being benefits and programming to support employees during the pandemic.

To support employees with pandemic-related stress, our Family Connections Network created a series of events called “Thriving in the New Normal.” These events provided a forum for employees to share their experiences and help them navigate resources for caregivers.

To enhance awareness and support for mental health, our Mental Health Network launched the Mental Health Champions program – colleagues who volunteered to attend specialist training delivered by Mental Health First Aid (or a regional equivalent). These individuals are not therapists or counselors, but have been trained to listen, reassure, and respond to help guide UBS employees toward the various pathways that exist in relation to mental health or emotional issues. This could range from a one-off conversation to encouraging and signposting the individual to get appropriate professional help. In addition, UBS partnered with Headspace to provide employees with free access to a premium Headspace account, which offers thousands of hours of meditation and mindfulness content that can help reduce stress, increase happiness and improve sleep. 

During the pandemic, we performed regular “pulse” surveys to understand employees’ perspectives on remote work, stress, communication and other aspects of their work/life balance. The firm offered several resources to promote holistic well-being among employees, including a bespoke eLearning curriculum, physical and mental health initiatives, volunteering opportunities, increased local benefits offerings and financial education. Our health coverage was expanded to include enhanced fertility coverage for women, access to WINFertility and Ovia Health resources, milk storage through Milk Stork for working mothers and transgender support, including surgery coverage.

Back in 2019, we found that 90% of people who took parental leave ended up staying at the firm 12 months after returning from leave. In 2020, we introduced gender-neutral parental leave in the United States. This enables employees of any gender to take up to 20 weeks of paid leave in the year following the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of the employee’s (or domestic partner’s) child. Upon returning to work, employees are provided with flexible working options to ease their transition, and can choose to work three days a week (at full pay) for the first two weeks before resuming their full work week schedule.

Why is it so important to support caregiving employees within your company, especially as we look toward a post-COVID world?

At UBS, we understand that a healthy work/life balance is critical to our employees’ overall well-being and job satisfaction, and ultimately impacts their productivity. That’s why we work hard to ensure our employees—whatever their needs—are supported throughout the employee lifecycle. Our employee benefits, award-winning programs, and desire to further evolve into a more agile organization through flexible working enable us to do just that.

We empower our line managers and employees to work together to find the best flexible working solution for each team member and the broader team. This could include job sharing, which allows employees to work part-time for a role that requires full-time coverage by sharing the role with another employee.

Hybrid working opportunities are also available in many of our work locations, and 35,000 employees (and counting) have visited our “Ways of Working” page for tips and virtual sessions to help us all stay healthy and connected while working from home.

We know that working parents come from different backgrounds and as the needs of our employees evolve in a post-COVID world, so should our support, resources and programming.

What values are your organization founded on that help to create a more inclusive, equitable workplace for all?

At UBS, we have a defined purpose: “Reimagining the power of investing. Connecting people for a better world.” We know that by doing what we do best—offering insight and advice to inspire, connect, and empower people—we’re creating better outcomes, not only for today but for generations to come.

We firmly believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are fundamental to achieving our purpose. To reimagine the power of investing, we need to dismantle outdated assumptions about what it means to be an investor. To connect people for a better world, we need to foster the growth and success of those whose experiences and backgrounds accurately reflect the world around us. To succeed, we need to enable UBS to deliver the greatest possible impact for our stakeholders.

How has your company as a whole improved by helping parents and caregiving employees progress from within?

When we create an inclusive culture where everyone feels like they belong people feel empowered to do their best work and deliver for their clients. When all employees succeed, including parents and caregivers, our firm succeeds. There is no greater testament to the power of inclusion than the success of our leaders who are working parents.

For the past 14 years that UBS has been named one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Parents, we have been honored to nominate a “UBS Working Parent of the Year” – an exemplary working parent who not only excels and contributes as a leader in their respective team, but also balances family life. Honorees could be working parents who are great mentors, have made significant contributions to their community or company, or have overcome personal or professional obstacles.

We’re proud to announce that this year, Dawn Whitacre (pictured above), Branch Manager of UBS’s Dayton Office and Co-chair for the Ohio Indy Chapter of our women’s network, All Bar None, has been named as UBS’s “Working Parent of the Year” for 2022.

“I am proud to work for a company that puts family and working parents as a top priority,” said Dawn. “The generous benefits UBS offers, including flexible work arrangements, give working parents the opportunity to balance work and family. In addition, our Family Connections Network has been a great support system that helps working parents navigate the joys and challenges of parenthood. The supportive culture at UBS makes me, as a working mother, feel truly valued!”

Dawn is among the many working parents at the firm who contribute to our culture and deliver for our clients, communities, and society.

What are some future initiatives that you are planning in order to ensure the workplace remains an inclusive environment for parents and caregiving employees?

In the United States, UBS offers a variety of benefits and resources to support families and we continue to look for ways to grow and enhance our offerings. As part of our 2023 benefits, we are expanding our adoption and surrogacy reimbursement benefit to include expenses related to any unsuccessful adoption and surrogacy attempts.

We will be offering a new service from Milk Stork to help parents identify the right breast pump for them and receive assistance with ordering and its assembly once received.

Employees and their family members can now also access support from Ovia Health, spanning the full spectrum of women’s and family health, including menopausal support.

In the future, we will continue to review and enhance our offerings for working parents across the globe based on employee feedback from our annual employee survey, as well as from industry best practices and research.