Supporting women after maternity leave has been moving up the agenda recently. We spoke to Mandy Garner of Workingmums.co.uk to find out more.
Hi Mandy. Tell us about Workingmums and your role?
Workingmums brings together working mums with employers that are looking for ﬂexible workers. It’s grown from jobs board to a much broader site. We have things like best practice reports for ﬂexible working, awards for top employers, and advice and support resources. As editor, I write and edit our content – anything from blogs about flexible working to best practice reports.
What can companies do to support and retain women in the workplace after maternity leave?
A good flexible working policy is very important. Also having defined procedures around maternity leave – including ‘keep in touch’ days and agreeing working arrangements in plenty of time. Vodafone has a great maternity policy based on gradual return – where people temporarily work a four-day week on full pay, allowing them to ease back into working life. There are returner schemes, which are becoming hugely important in talent attraction, especially in sectors with skills shortages. These policies aren’t without challenges. If your manager is uncooperative, it can be difficult. A lot of HR leaders are tackling this with training around maternity discrimination and unconscious bias. Also, if the company culture is long, office-based hours, it’s hard to change that.
What advice would you give to new mums about how to balance parenting with your career?
Essentially you just have to find out what works in your situation. I think it helps to talk to others (including friends from other organisations if it’s too political to speak to colleagues), but don’t let anyone tell you what to do because each person’s situation is unique. Finally, remember you’re not alone, there are so many women going through the same thing!
From the STEM Report 2017:
- Personal Development Schemes
“They are available but only for specific people. Retention schemes aren’t really their interest apart from on paper as they want to continually reduce headcount to make way for new recruits.” – Anonymous
We wanted to know both what was being offered by workplaces but also what individuals had had personal access to. Half of all participants, for example, said that there were internal training opportunities available (and 47% had then gone onto to utilise these, demonstrating their popularity) However, 20% people stated that they neither had personal access to nor were aware of any personal development schemes available in their current workplace. 20% of all participants made use of workplace mentoring schemes.
Recommendation: Employers needs to increase available development schemes and also encourage engagement with these across all schemes available.
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