Multi-tasking women, the GRoW Programme, and how we make behavioural insights work

Liz Sewell
Director GRoW Programme


The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT)  are well known for their evidence based projects that show how behavioural insights can boost engagement, job search and resilience; so I was really excited to be asked by ERSA to respond to their work following a fascinating presentation from Rony Hacohen of the Team at ERSA’s Communications Policy and Insights Network

Belina’s programmes have always used behavioural insights as a base. The academic studies that inform our work are well known: Daniel Kahneman’s Fast and Slow thinking; Nudge Theory; Maslow‘s Hierarchy of Need,  Philip Zimbardo’s work on time; Transactional Analysis; and Honey and Mumford’s learning styles. Using this research, our approach is a group programme called GRoW – Get Ready for Work  – that has training techniques that challenge an individual’s current thinking and behaviour.

Value Attachment

OctomumOne insight, Value Attachment,  has been used in America to support ethnic minorities to improve their test scores. The theory behind this is that people can Improve their outcomes if they have an opportunity to consider positive attributes about themselves before they undertake a task. Conversely, negative connotations have a negative influence. An example is when Asian women did a series of maths tests.  In one of the sessions there was a discussion before the test  of the perception  that women tend to be worse at maths. In the second test there was a discussion on how Asian people were often considered to be good at maths. In the tests, which were of the same standard, the women did better in the second test; after a discussion that indicated they would be more likely to be better at maths.

We wanted to look at how we could adopt this approach for our parents.  We work with women who initially feel that they have little to offer and that employers are not interested in them. We want to challenge that.
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The first activity is to ask the mothers to make a list of all the things that mothers do. This list usually starts with cooking, cleaning, caring and bathing.  It often then moves on to helping with homework and taking children to school before developing into transferable skills like driving, negotiating and, sometimes even, peacekeeping. The discussions in the groups become more animated and women become more confident and start to talk about the fact that they ‘do it all’ and they support the whole family and that, actually, they are “amazing”.

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Marvellous Multi-tasking Mums

We then ask them  in groups to come up with a poster/advert that sells mothers to employers and present it to the group. As you can see from the posters here, the women show that they feel positive and empowered and in the presentations they often explain that the employers would be “getting a bargain”. From Octomum. to SuperMum the posters and presentations are a pean to the multitasking skills mothers exude.

At the end of the whole programme, we ask them to reflect on the project – and often the break through moment for them is this session and it gives them the boost they need to start on their way back to work.2009-01-08 14.15.36

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