Wednesday November 3, 2010
Laura Campbell, a learnpurple associate specialising in maternity issues, discusses pregnancy in the workplace and how supporting this process can enhance employee engagement.
The lack of women in the boardroom is a frequent and ongoing debate. Janet Street-Porter famously wrote “A glass ceiling? It's reinforced b****y concrete” and went on to point out that 132 out of the top 250 companies in the UK have all-male boards.
How many of those few who do make it have children? I was speaking with a client about her mentor recently and she could not praise her highly enough –she was a brilliant leader; a head of department and also a mother. She managed to have (or juggle) it all and my client was keen to follow her example.
It‘s a real challenge being a parent and there needs to be a support team in place through pregnancy, maternity leave and beyond that really understands pregnancy and parenting from an emotional and practical perspective. If a woman receives this support in the workplace and an element of understanding is disseminated from the top down, women will feel empowered to return work following birth.
A few years ago, Sainsburys worked out the costs of training a replacement for a deputy manager on a salary of £21,000 a year. At over £29,000, the retailer would save at least £8,000, provided the woman returned to work. It doesn’t take an accountant to work out that these figures increase significantly for key people. In addition the skills, relationships and respect that these key people have built up over the years with the company are priceless.
As a Maternity Consultant I am invited in to coach, advise and support teams, individuals and the Board of Directors to understand and smooth the journey for pregnant staff, managers and families with practical and emotional support.
You will notice I don’t just discuss women – with shared paternity leave and adoption leave we have to prepare fathers, and mothers who may not have been pregnant, for maternity leave and beyond. Babies and children are obviously a part of life. By supporting and nurturing families you will reap the benefits having a dedicated, loyal workforce.
Pregnancy, birth and babies change everything - a new inner confidence develops as a mother or father – together with a will to succeed and provide which is primeval. A woman or man returning to work wants to have it all for their family.
They may decide not to return to work - In this situation we ensure that they become a ‘good leaver’ with a fantastic, long lasting opinion of your company. A bad story has far more mileage, and you never know who they could be talking to. It could well be the next woman with a family who does want to sit at your boardroom table and lead by example.
Laura has been in the boardroom, run a restaurant and managed communication and crisis whilst pregnant - so she knows both sides of the story. Laura can be booked for 1:1 support or to provide educational days for teams. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.