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Saracens rugby players in action

Show That You Care

Tim Cox
May 31, 2019

MF's Tim Cox takes a look at how two phenomenally successful organisations show they care.

Saracens, founded in 1876, is an English professional rugby union team based in London.

Farfetch, launched in 2007, is an online luxury fashion retail platform that sells products from over 700 boutiques and brands from around the world.

Firstly, let's look at Saracens.

In an epic match on Saturday they became English champions for the fourth time in five seasons. This came two weeks after they lifted the European Champions Cup for the third time in four years.

It’s a brilliant record by any standard.

Much has been written and spoken about the culture that exists at the club. Underpinned by the unwavering belief and commitment of successful entrepreneur and majority owner Nigel Wray; catalysed by the vision of former Head Coach Brendan Venter and CEO Edward Griffiths; and evolved by the team under current Director of Rugby Mark McCall. They have a winning team, with stars on and off the field.

Many questions have been asked as to how they do it. With humility as one of their core values they don’t talk themselves up. They are clear there is no secret formula. McCall picked up Premiership Coach of the year, again, this week. In a BBC interview has was asked ‘How do you do it?’

His response: “There is no ‘one thing.’ In simple terms, if we treat people unbelievably well, they’ll work unbelievably hard. You have to show that you care.”

They do do show they care.

They develop tailored personal development programmes for players. They actively support players to achieve higher education qualifications. They arrange secondments for work experience. They even invest in player founded businesses as Wray says: “If any of our players have a sound commercial idea, I am interested and I may invest. The least I will do is offer advice.” They have funded and built a Saracens High School in the local area and they provide a creche facility at the training ground. These are just some of the ways they show that they care.

It’s not just in sport that you see this focus. We see it clearly with another great organisation MF work with.

Farfetch was set up by Jose Neves when he recognised the need to provide independent fashion boutiques with an on-line retail presence. In September 2018 the company went public and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It continues to grow achieving multiple industry awards and has becoming an employer of choice in the tech industry, attracting talent from the world’s premier tech companies including Google.

And Farfetch also show that they care.

Abby Marcus, Global People Partner highlights this in a blog post on the Farfetch Careers website.

“Fast-paced, high-performance, ever-changing. These are just three of the things about the Farfetch culture that make working here so exciting! But for those who are about to become parents, being in an environment like this can be stressful and, for some, juggling their responsibilities at work and at home can seem almost impossible.”

“This is a feeling I know all too well. A few years ago I found out I was having a baby. I was elated and couldn’t wait to meet my little girl. Very quickly, however, I started to worry about the future of my career. I had just moved into a role that I loved and there was so much I wanted to achieve, but now I had a very limited time in which to achieve it. Questions would swirl in my mind (usually at 2:00am when I was sat at my kitchen table satisfying my latest pregnancy craving) such as:

“Who will take on my role whilst I’m away?”

“Will they do a better job than I did?”

“Will I need to work more flexibly when I return to work?”

“Would my company even allow me to work more flexibly?”

“If I did go part time, how would I make sure I’m still adding value in the same way?”

…I could go on.

I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling this way and figured there had to be something that we as a company could do, to support our employees as they made the transition to working parent.”

Abby did figure out a way and was instrumental in setting up schemes to provide access to Maternity, and more recently Paternity Coaching at Farfetch.

The results? Quotes such as those below reflect very positively…

“Returning to work after having a baby was harder than I anticipated. My coach allowed me to design the goals of the session and guided me through the conversation – she listened, provided some exercises and asked timely questions. It was a great relief to speak to someone neutral rather than a colleague or family. To be given this time was invaluable.” Lucinda Greasley, Mum of One

“I thought the whole experience was brilliant. I was a bit apprehensive at first as paternity leave is sometimes considered to be less overwhelming than maternity leave, but the sessions were really useful and I took away some great action points. I would definitely recommend other fathers/fathers-to-be to take advantage of the sessions!” Nick Georgiou, Dad of Two

Retention rates improved too. Before they introduced the scheme only 50% of Farfetch UK maternity leavers returned to their roles. This figure now stands at 80%. In an organisation experiencing high growth in a sector famed for the competition for talent this is huge.

A survey of 2002 new fathers sponsored by Deloitte and conducted by Daddilfe, a parenting website, makes for interesting reading. Headlines from the research include:

  • New fathers feel guilty – they believe they short-change all those around them. Half feel guilt towards their line manager and colleagues.
  • New Fathers mental health is affected – 37% report it as somewhat or very negatively affected.
  • New Fathers change jobs – one third reported a move since becoming a father.
  • Flexibility to accommodate parental responsibilities is reported as a factor, second only to salary.

Farfetch are showing they care by providing coaching for new parents. Like Saracens they know it makes sense.

Saracens Rugby and Farfetch exist in completely different environments. One is predominantly male, the other predominantly female. They are both phenomenally successful in their fields and look set to sustain this.

There are many factors that contribute to this success. We believe showing they care is a critical one. They have ambitions to treat their people unbelievably well and in return their people support them to deliver success.

I'll leave the last words to Abby:

“Being able to launch (and experience!) benefits such as this is one of the reasons why I love working at Farfetch. Demands are high and we work fast, but we take a revolutionary approach to everything we do and always put our people first.”

For those interested you can gain further insights into how both organisations show they care via the below links.


If you'd like to find out more about our range of coaching services for you or a member of your team, contact Sarah Campbell on +44 (0) 20 7928 4841 or email sarah.campbell@managementfutures.co.uk

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