2 Brenda Gardner discusses her attempt to persuade Penguin to provide a workplace creche
We really wanted to have a crèche that the company sponsored. The idea was that people who used it would be subsidised and you would have to pay something. So I got to go and meet top management as part of the Crèche Committee. And the company kind of played us along for a while – ‘OK, well what do you want?’, you know, ‘Come back and do a paper.’ ‘OK. How else do you want this? What do you want?’ And we thought we were getting somewhere. And it was a real lesson for me this whole thing.
These meetings were in Harmondsworth, in the boardroom and you had this slightly old-fashioned set of blokes sitting there, and we would present and then be told to go back and do this, get these figures, do this for us, OK?
Then we’d come back again. So we’d keep coming back. And the ultimate meeting was that they’d brought in the warehouse, because we’d been talking about the warehouse in abstract. And, of course, the women in the warehouse did not think like we did, and their MoC [Mother of the Chapel] was adamant at this meeting, which just crushed me and crushed all arguments that we’d had, which was that: why should we subsidise women, women who have this facility to make use of a crèche are getting extra money from the company, and that’s not fair.
This MoC was having none of it, you know. And I can remember [laughs] I could have waited for a Penguin bus to take me back, and I just decided I can’t stay in this place, so I walked to the corner and got the public bus to get back into London, just feeling so bereft.