Closing the Gender Gap:

Philips' 'Working Parents Program' (WPP)

gender parity
Company name:
Royal Philips Electronics
Health & Healthcare
More than 50,000
Europe & Central Asia
Contact Name:
Yvonne van den Berg
Contact Position:
Director Social Innovation & Diversity
Contact company representative

The Gap:

Type of Gap: middle management level

The 'Working Parents Program' (WPP) aims to address the above average turnover rate in the 30-40 age group, of people struggling to achieve work-life-balance. 

Philips chooses to be a talent builder instead of a talent buyer. We invest time and money in the development of talented women in the age of 25-35 (high potential development programs). Our social return on investment of these high potential programs should preferably be that we can offer these women a career path at Philips. 

The WPP aims to help Philips' employees find a healthier balance in a life phase in which they have multilateral ambitions. We focus on parents, both male and female, with the assumption that this creates equal opportunities for both genders to realize ambitions in work and life. Outcomes of this program are e.g. retention of talented and motivated employees during the phase in which they are starting a family. And … happy, healthy and balanced employees achieve better results!

The Practice:

Type of practice: Work environment, work-life balance

We designed a 1.5-day workshop specifically for employees - both male and female - who combine work and caring for their children. 

The WPP gives them insights regarding work/life balance in their current and preferred situation and it helps them take the lead in better managing according to preference and needs. The exercises involved are easy, interactive and fun. The WPP proves to be a starting point for a bottom up cultural change. Participants want to help break down social barriers relating to working parents in order to promote social change and they also want to help shape a culture in which work/life balance issues can be discussed openly. They all state that offering space and trust will lead to more engagement and flexibility. 

By giving the attendants of the workshop the possibility to give recommendations to other Philips employees, managers and HR , they feel engaged and act as ambassadors for the new style of working. 

Beyond the positive impact on individual participants, the WPP provides Philips with insights into key challenges faced by the firm's employees and the solutions that find most acceptance. This enables the company to address these challenges beyond the actual participants of the program. Recommendations are used to modify the HR Policy and some articles in the Collective Labor Agreement. We also use these insights to improve our leadership program for first time managers.


We obtain initial measures using Net Promoter Score – to understand whether participants perceive the program as helpful, to determine the number of people interested in the program, to follow program alumni to measure impact on attrition, as well as regular surveys on “How did the program impact your behaviour longer term?”.

Implementation Date:

The WPP started in 2010. 1.5 day workshops have become part of Philips learning curriculum in Benelux.

The Success:

The average evaluation score of the program is 4.0 (scale 1-5).

Approximately 90% of participants realize their action plan / resolution made on day 1. All sessions are fully booked and demand remains high. We receive strong, positive feedback from participants. Also longer term, we have an active online alumni community sharing experiences and best practices. 

By organizing roundtable sessions with ex-participants – 6 months and/or a year after the workshop – and by offering them (dialog) coaching, we invest in a long term relationship. Dialog coaching can be of help to improve the relationship between employee and manager, to create a situation in which the two parties interact on an equal basis and find a solution together – called an I-Deal – which will meet the expectations of both parties.

Two years in to the program it is too early to measure impact on retention. We recently changed the name of this initiative to 'Work-Life Program' and now offer this course not only for working parents (30-45 years of age), but also to other employees who experience integration issues in their daily work/life.

Success factors:

  1. Addresses one of the obvious issues of employees in Western Europe
  2. Workshop is pragmatic – and centered around participants. They experience it as very worthwhile that Philips offers this course (that there is attention for their personal situation).
  3. Get buy in to ensure funding via businesses rather than D&I budget, to organize a lot more workshops for all employees on the waiting list


  1. Fear of success – and not being able to cope with seats requested.
  2. Manager is key factor in realizing good W/L-balance; a good dialog is very important. Facilitation of dialog sessions with dialog coach.
  3. Move mindsets from ‚it’s a women’s‘ to ‚it’s a company‘ issue because a lot of employees (m/f) experience these type of problems (we had 40% male participants).


Awareness|Coaching / Mentoring|Employee Satisfaction|Monitoring|Individual Support|Work Arrangements
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