Bill’s story is important and we commend him on his openness and his personal transformation since becoming a foster carer.

We believe that stories like this should be encouraged and shared in today’s workplace.

We share his story here with permission and hope that you take what you can to empower the people around you to be brave.

Embracing the journey – becoming a foster carer

In 2021, I collaborated with the Unite Foundation, an organisation that supports care-experienced young people. My objective was to find individuals with lived experience of care. This campaign remains one of the proudest and most challenging I have supported. Reading through the applications, learning about the systemic barriers and hearing of the harrowing experiences people have overcome, deeply affected me.

A year later, I discovered that social services were concerned about the well-being of my niece and nephew. Recalling the experiences of the candidates, such as one being placed in over 100 homes during childhood, I was determined not to let this happen.

Despite being single and not having any parenting experience, I volunteered to become a connected persons carer. I met with a viability assessor, passed the assessment, and ordinarily would have undergone an intensive assessment and training program.

However, six weeks later, an emergency situation arose, and I received a phone call asking if I could take in the children with 30 minutes’ notice on a Sunday. That day was certainly eventful.

Being a foster carer has compelled me to reconsider every aspect of my life.

Although the children’s story is theirs to share if they choose, I want to speak about my journey, especially as both the children and I are thriving. I believe in being a visible leader, which means speaking up and out.

Challenges and visibility as a foster carer

I have hesitated to go public or post with my status as a foster carer for almost a year. Unfortunately, some clients, who I felt duty bound to disclose my situation to, made negative assumptions about my ability to deliver high-performance work and backed away. Despite that, most people have been positive and supportive and I’ve proven to them that a caring role can be compatible with continuing work and high-performance.

During the process of becoming a foster carer, and when I took the children into my care I discussed my situation with Grant, our Managing Director and my line manager, who was incredibly supportive and understanding. I was offered time out, or any other support I felt I might need.

I decided to continue working. My work ethic is important to me and a key part of my identity. I needed my job to keep me grounded while dealing with a complex situation; revisiting every aspect of my life in learning to become a carer.

As a consultant supporting charities with critical leadership appointments, I believed these organisations would be value-driven, supportive and understanding. Having experienced successfully navigating the pandemic in terms of leading recruitment processes robustly, I did not foresee my status as a foster carer being a problem. However, the reality I encountered surprised me.

One client I had secured business with chose to retender rather than accept a one-week delay or explore a range of robust solutions we presented. Another prospective client I had disclosed my situation to informed me that I was not selected due to “concerns about my capacity,” even though they never asked me any questions about it.

I hesitated on including the paragraph above. I am sure it’s simply a case of those decision makers mitigating risk and I don’t share this seeking retribution. I share it simply to give insight into some of the real challenges I faced.

I believe this experience was an essential part of my journey and as I continued on my path and spoke with other foster carers and adoptive parents, I learned more about the discrimination carers often face from friends, family, and within the workplace.

In many cases, this discrimination stemmed from misunderstandings, stigma, or an unwillingness to discuss concerns and find solutions.

The initial response I faced made me worry about the viability of my role, causing anxiety and defensiveness. For a while, I decided to keep my fostering status quiet through fear that I would continue to lose business.

Support, success, and sharing my story

Despite the setbacks I encountered, I cannot praise Grant Taylor, our leadership team, and the wider Peridot team enough for their support and belief in me.

At a time when I struggled to bring in new work and was doubting myself, they believed in me. They helped me to hire an additional consultant, empowered me to open an office in Coventry to avoid isolation from colleagues, and gave me a role with additional responsibility, not less.

I am grateful for the support and feel that I have thrived. Over the past year, I have delivered my most successful year to date, surpassing all of my targets, which were set before becoming a foster carer. More importantly to me, I have also honoured and met all of the deadlines I have committed to and appointed to every role I have been retained for.

I have also innovated our processes, made them more inclusive, found more efficient and collaborative ways of working as well as become Chair of Peridot’s Social Impact Group and a member of a charity turnaround board.

As a foster carer, I have also completed a robust and personal assessment, passed the fostering panel, become an approved foster carer, and completed 13 different training modules 18 months ahead of time.

I’m incredibly proud of the transformation I have instigated both within myself, for my foster children and within the workplace. It now looks likely that I will continue to be a foster carer for the foreseeable future, and potentially for the next decade.

I want to share my story for two primary reasons:

First, the outcome of responding to a crisis does not always have to be negative. The last year has helped me develop as a leader, find additional capacity, become a better delegator, make quicker decisions, find additional motivation and given me insight into the challenges that those who provide and receive care face. I think I have become a better, stronger and more empathetic leader as a result. Despite the pressure on my time, I also have a better work life balance.

Secondly, discrimination can have profound effects on foster carers. It leads to burnout, decreased self-esteem and a reduced likelihood of continuing in employment. This is particularly concerning given the ongoing need for more foster carers and the positive impact that stable, nurturing environments can have on vulnerable children.

We can’t overcome discrimination without being vulnerable. Speaking up, creating a dialogue, and sharing our stories and experiences is important. With this in mind, I wanted to share my story and make a commitment to be more visible about my experiences as a new foster carer in the workplace.

Bill Yuksel is a Managing Consultant and leads on a range of charity CEO and Students’ Union appointments. He has an exemplary track record of placing hundreds of senior leadership and board appointments in the students’ union, youth, education, community and wider not for profit sectors. Bill has a passion for creating environments where people can create real systemic change and a real commitment to delivering inclusive, empowering and robust recruitments. You can connect with Bill on Linkedin, or why not send him an email.