Leaders Plus Fellow Blog

How to Ask Your Employer to Fund Your Place on the Leaders Plus Fellowship

How to Fund Your Fellowship Place

Approaching your employer cap-in-hand for most things can be a daunting task. Unplanned leave, that long over-due promotion or even a pay-rise. But when it comes to quality development opportunities – especially ones that could also benefit your organisation – facing that difficult conversation is a no-brainer.

That’s just what these Leaders Plus Fellows did, and they haven’t looked back.

Here they share their tips on how to approach a potentially tricky conversation with confidence.


Think Long-Term

“We already offer in-house training for parents”, is an initial response that some current Fellows had from their employers, according to Verena Hefti, CEO and Founder of Leaders Plus.

“My response would be to challenge whether that training is genuinely designed to support you in the long-term. Ask ‘does it focus on the kind of career progression needed to tackle the Gender Pay Gap?’ or ‘Will this training help me to develop my professional network?’.

You need something that creates a life-long peer network which will support you 10 years down the line when you’re stressed and your teenage kids don’t want to speak to you!”

Reach out to the Fellowship Network

Getting a real sense of what it’s like to experience the Fellowship will give you an in-depth understanding of the programme and how it could uniquely benefit you.

That’s what 2019 Fellow, Francesca Witt, did before approaching her employer. “I was lucky that an ex-colleague had taken part in the inaugural Fellowship and whilst we hadn’t worked together for years, I reached out to her to ask about the programme, and specifically, suggestions on how to ask for funding. That chat gave me the confidence to have the conversation with my manager and happily they said, ‘Yes!’”

If you would like to talk to one of our friendly fellows directly then get in touch.

The Bigger Picture

“Highlight the value Leaders Plus will add to the organisation, not just you as an individual,” suggests Ruth Evans, Consultant at NEL Healthcare Consulting. “I wanted to bring back what I’d learnt to share with my colleagues and as a result, I’ve established a group within NHC which supports others through the maternity leave process. We’re currently testing a number of practical initiatives with our members, for example, a ‘checklist’ for those about to go on or return from maternity leave, as well as their managers, which we hope will cut through the confusion and provide a quick-reference guide to anyone who needs it.”

Go Dutch!

With many organisations cutting back on budgets why not suggest splitting the bill with your employer if personal finances allow, as one 2018 Fellow did. “I initially asked my employer for full funding knowing I would be willing to pay if I had to, so long as I could attend the workshops without using my annual leave – that was my bottom line.” This particular Fellow’s workplace offered to pay a percentage of the fee whilst helping to spread the cost for the rest. “They gave me an interest-free loan which was paid back through my monthly salary over the rest of the fellowship.”

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

“I had to work hard to get my employer to fund my place,” says Heather Taylor, 2018 Fellow. “My manager was extremely supportive, however, the business refused to fund. I was down-hearted at first but together with my line-manager, we put forward a business case which outlined the benefit to the organisation as well as me as an individual – namely that it would provide insight into best practice for supporting return-to-work parents. This turned their decision around, and they agreed to fund my place.”

Registration for the 2020 Leaders Plus Fellowship Programme is now open – register here! The closing date for applications is February 2020.

For full information about the Leaders Plus Fellowship programme download our Employers Pack here.

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