The Princess of Wales has championed the role businesses can play in supporting children and their carers, saying the foundations for key skills employers look for “are built in the earliest years of our lives”.
Kate this week urged business leaders to prioritise wellbeing in the workplace to support family life as she launched her Business Taskforce for Early Childhood, of which supermarket giant Iceland is a member.
A video shared on Kensington Palace’s social media channels on Saturday shows Kate’s recent visit to an Iceland food warehouse in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, with the firm’s executive chairman Richard Walker.
They discussed the long-term Shaping Us campaign, spearheaded by Kate, which aims to “transform the issue of early childhood from one of scientific interest to one of the most strategically important topics of our time”.
In the clip, Kate tells Mr Walker: “You hear time and time again that these soft skills, you know, the creativity, the collaboration, the critical thinking, the flexibility, the resilience.
“You know, these are things that you’d hear that businesses are looking for and it’s really interesting seeing how, actually, so often, the foundations for those skills are built in the earliest years of our lives.”
Mr Walker added: “Looking at the Shaping Us campaign and reading some of the science behind it, it really challenged my thinking and it made me think what more we can do, personally as a parent, but also actually as a business.”
A nodding, smiling Kate added: “That’s the thing, is that so many of your employees but also customers, their parents, their grandparents, we all know that it’s important to look after their wellbeing because those are the people that are raising children today.”
She later said: “It’s really important that all of us are supporting the most vulnerable in our communities and particularly now, yes, when they’re all struggling, community support is needed now more than ever.”
Kate has said employers have an important role in making it possible for parents to balance a successful working life with a nurturing home life for their children.
Writing in FT Weekend, the future Queen said investing in early childhood is “a down payment for our collective future”.
Kate is hoping global firms who have joined her taskforce will be the catalyst for change and encourage firms across the country to train and help staff to maintain their social and emotional welfare, aiding their work and home life.
In her article for FT, the mother-of-three said: “Our resilience, flexibility, ability to manage stress and remain motivated when facing challenges are all shaped by the foundations we build in early childhood.
“However, not enough emphasis is placed on social and emotional development or on building environments which nurture these skills, during childhood and beyond.
“Parental wellbeing is the biggest single factor in determining a child’s wellbeing and we know that becoming a parent places additional pressure on mental health.
“Nearly 75% of people find parenting under-fives stressful.
“We also know that parents make up a significant part of the UK workforce — 76% of mothers and 92% of fathers with children are in work.
“We must recognise the challenge for many of these parents, and other caregivers, in balancing a successful working life with a nurturing home life during their children’s formative years.
“Employers have an important role in making that possible.”
Kate said she believes two things need to be done.
“The first is to prioritise creating working environments that provide the support people need to cultivate and maintain their own social and emotional wellbeing.
“The second is a more concentrated focus on the social and emotional development of our youngest children,” she said.
Concluding her article, the princess said: “As the world becomes ever more complex, we have to invest in early childhood now, as a down payment for our collective future.
“If business and commerce embrace this significant issue — including how better early childhoods will affect their own organisations both now and in the long term — we can and will transform lives for generations to come.”
Earlier this week, Kate joined the inaugural meeting of the taskforce, whose members include Unilever, Ikea, NatWest and Lego, an initiative which follows the launch of her Shaping Us project, described as her “life’s work” and aimed at raising the profile of youngsters’ early years development.