Employee Stories from Emirates Nature in Association with WWF

About Emirates Nature in Association with WWF (EN – WWF):

Emirates Nature in Association with WWF is a non-for-profit, non-government entity charity that has been created under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan dedicated to the legacy of the history between Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and late President of the UAE, who has been awarded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in honoring his integral work in nature conservation and preservation locally and globally.

We create, manage and implement projects in the UAE to ensure sustainability, environmentalism and conservation is practiced by the individuals across all demographics, the private sector and the public sector through not just funding, but through training and development, ideation sessions for solutions for nature, incubation sessions to turn these ideas to life, and through participating with us on the ground as volunteers to create a mass transformative impact at scale, as nature is our lifeline and the key to safeguarding our present and future resources.

Why is EN – WWF committed to being a parent-friendly workplace?

We believe that creating a core value system that matches the essence of philanthropy is essential to what our organization stands for – giving back to our natural ecosystems and the community. In as such, one of our values is integrity. We want to be able to practice what we preach, and a key to that is creating a workplace environment that allows our team to thrive. Our team is comprised of Emiratis and residents that have dedicated their lives to our vision, of whom all call the UAE their home for themselves and their families. A majority of the team, being parents, need to have the support system that enables a flexible workplace that allows them to be happy in their personal lives as well as their work life, making sure that they, as parents, can excel and feel fulfilled through providing their children with the key foundations for love, support, and physical presence. Much like nature, children need the utmost nourishment, as they are our future and our legacy, not just for each member, but our country.

Share a parent-friendly workplace initiative that EN-WWF excels with and the impact it is having on the workplace culture.

The organization is blessed to have leaders who have always been pioneers, providing essential support and policies to give the team the key essentials such as a healthy maternity and paternity leave, family sponsorship, golden visa support, amongst numerous others. We also enjoy a flexi-work environment working from the office once or twice a week, flexi-work hours (with core working hours), where we encourage parents to spend quality time with their children, introducing travel over the summer months as a family creating valuable experiences and memories that mould our children (assuring the digital infrastructure for working remotely globally during that time,). We all vividly remember our ‘Bring Your Panda Cub to Work Day’ where the organisation offers a full day of entertainment for children at the office, while their parents are able to work and during their breaks enjoy time with their little ones. This initiative has allowed children to get an understanding where their parent is during the day, what they do, and by whom they are surrounded by. The feedback of parents was very appreciative, as children then understood the concept of work, and were less apprehensive towards their parents leaving for work.

What are some of the business benefits you see from being a parent-friendly workplace?

In the philanthropic world, our entity, much like others in the field, wants to be able to have team members that are focused on being a part of instilling and protecting wellbeing of any kind, which is a foundational element of parenthood. Having a parent-friendly workplace allows the organization to showcase and communicate to its members and potential future colleagues our value system, hopefully attracting people who share and cherish the same, creating a culture of like-minded individuals who support one another and the organization collectively. In addition, having this culture of inclusivity not just in our conservational efforts, but in our team, created trust amongst our partners, resulting in increasing further partnership opportunities. Contentment attracts further investment by other parties who share your beliefs and invest in the vision you strive to achieve. In addition to this, we are able to observe that parents are producing higher quality work outcomes, as childcare is something they can actively influence and take part of, as a result of our work from home and flexi-hours policies.

Emirates Nature-WWF Employee Stories
It has been incredible working for Emirates Nature-WWF as a parent. We work in a very parent-friendly environment. Working from home allows us the freedom to still be working and present in our children’s lives. We have extensive annual leave which allows us to spend the hot summer months with our families and friends. We can also work remotely for the summer months which is such a great way to escape the heat.

Our 36.5-hour work week is also incredibly lenient and allows us to be with our children on a Friday afternoon once they have finished school for the week. We have an incredible initiative called “Baby Pandas”, where our children are also made to feel part of the team at Emirates Nature-WWF. This initiative offers our children exclusive activities related to what we as parents do on a day-to-day basis. My son absolutely loves the “Baby Panda” initiative and is always asking what exciting activity is coming up next. He also has the opportunity to meet fellow “Baby Pandas” which he loves.

Whenever I have needed to take my son to a doctor’s appointment or attend a school event during work hours, Emirates Nature-WWF has been incredibly supportive by giving us the time off or respecting that we will be out for an hour or so. We are incredibly lucky to be working for such a supportive and parent-friendly organisation as many organisations across the UAE are not as supportive.

I am honoured to work for Emirates Nature-WWF and ever so grateful for the opportunity to do incredible environmental work in the UAE while being supported as a parent.
I have been a panda for over five years and over the course of my time at Emirates Nature-WWF have had lots of ups and downs with pregnancies. Each time I have been blown away by how supportive my line manager and wider senior leadership team has been about my healing journey in these instances - by handling the situation with compassion and giving me the time and space to cope and not pressuring me to come back to work until I am ready on my own terms. 

I gave birth to a healthy happy baby boy 4 months ago, and my panda family has been celebrating by my side, with flower deliveries, lovely messages from the team, and 100% opportunity to switch off during maternity leave which has allowed me to focus on my baby and new family. I have also had the opportunity to take additional unpaid leave to enjoy these precious first few months with my baby. We have so many inspirational environmentalists as colleagues, and I can’t wait for baby to be at the stage where I can take him along on nature trips and have him explore the gorgeous UAE and be curious alongside my inspirational colleagues!
Having over ten years of work experience within the UAE in many different industries and with various employers, I can wholeheartedly say that Emirates Nature – WWF is a genuine gem of employer.

The work culture is unique and I am surrounded by inspiring women in leadership positions who are able to manage and balance their work and family commitments. The flexibility that EN-WWF offers around working schedules and especially remote working during summer holidays certainly helps with balancing work and parental duties.

The management hardly says no to innovative ideas that target projects or our culture, in fact being open minded and open to new things is our work culture.

Raising my children as an employee of EN-WWF has enriched our life so much. My children, who have been born in the UAE have a much stronger bond to the UAE and credit has to be given to EN-WWF, as we have visited many of our conservation sites and explored UAE’s nature beyond those. My children identify a lot with my work and I want them to grow up that employers can be amazing and work is a place you enjoy.
My journey with Emirates Nature-WWF started in 2013 when I was not a parent. The day I started working there, I felt the respect and honor. All our personal occasions were celebrated officially by our office which is a good motivation for any employee. I always have received a lot of support from colleagues and management whenever I felt any difficulty either in work or personal matters.

My first kid was born in 2016. That was a bit difficult time as my kid was hospitalized due to premature birth and it is most of the times very difficult to handle such situation specially when one is living abroad as one feels lack of support of family members being not around you but in my case it was different as I received a lot of support from my colleagues and higher management and they never let me feel that I am alone. I always felt that I am surrounded by a big family, of course our Panda family. My organization immediately arranged health insurance for my kid so that he can be covered during hospitalization, and I was granted a paternity leave for 10 days. I received calls from my higher management offering any type of support which really impressed me a lot of the value they are giving to their staff members. It was a good moral support for me as a first-time parent.

Same was the case with my second child as she was born in start of 2020 when it was peak of the COVID-19 Pandemic with a lot of movement restrictions. I received an even stronger response from my organization to handle that tense situation so with help and motivation from my organization we went through this stage more comfortably. My third child was born in 2022 and he was also experiencing some birth related difficulties. My management and colleagues came forward again and offered any type of help. This was a bit of a critical time. My health insurance was due to expire at the same time when my child was due to be born but my management supported me in this again and my family health insurance was processed in advance ahead of its expiry so that I don’t feel any issue during the treatment process. I must say that raising my children is different while working with Emirates Nature rather than any other organization as Emirates Nature always gives priority to the employees and their family. During COVID-19 pandemic when it was hitting hard everyone globally, the organization kept us motivated and safe by immediately adopting work from home principle. Our children’s schooling also changed to virtual home schooling so our organization came forward again to rescue the parents by showing flexibility in working hours so that we can adjust our working hours according to our child’s virtual schooling so that the schooling of our children are not affected. I think this was a very critical point. Another great initiative which I appreciate is the Bring Your Baby Panda to Work where parents are allowed to bring their children to their workplace. This is a very nice initiative as the parents feel proud to see their children at their workplaces and it also motivates the child about the working environment where different activities were also organized for the children for their engagement and education. My child got so motivated that now he is telling his friends that he also wants to become a Panda when he grows up. We are also availing all the public holidays sometimes with additional holidays as well which gives parents enough time to engage their children in some healthy outdoor activities. We recently adopted a 36.5 hours a week working hours is another great initiative by our organization which gives more flexibility to the parents to spend more personal time with their children. Last but not least, I appreciate the 2-months work from anywhere initiative as it is very beneficial for those parents including me whom have school going children. This initiative empowers the parents to go out of the country for a bit longer. I must say that my experience as a parent with Emirates Nature-WWF is quite unique and I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t have the same experience with any other organization. Emirates Nature-WWF gives a lot of flexibility in working hours, holidays and vacations to the parents so that they can organize them according to their children schedules and I think this makes it a very productive organization because by this, it is motivating you towards a positive & healthy work environment where you feel relaxed with your family.