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5 ways your organisation can support mothers returning to the workforce

The qualities that are acquired or enhanced during motherhood tend to be underrated, with many women not even including their parental leave on their resume due to the implications it could have on their applications. In PwC’s 2018 report, 42% of women disclosed that they were “nervous of what having a child would do to their careers and 48% of new mothers felt that they were overlooked for career advancement opportunities because they had children.”

As women’s participation rates are rapidly increasing, organisations need to adapt to the expanding caretaking responsibilities and work-life balance needs of their employees.

Below we provide you with several ways your organisation can provide an equal and inclusive workforce.   

1. Organisational change from management

To better support mothers the overall culture needs to change and family friendly values need to be implemented. An increasing number of organisations are making every effort to form gender equality in their workplace, from adopting flexible work practices & employee assistance programs to supporting women in leadership by offering shared roles. What we have also noticed is companies are providing managers with “unconscious bias and communications training” enabling them to share a more open communication style with mothers and to better understand the cultural shift in supporting their return to work.

2. Offer coaching and mentoring to support the individual needs of mothers returning to work

When working mothers need advice or motivation, they would be more likely to turn to their respected colleagues and mentors, people that they trust who understand the politics and culture inside the organisation. Providing basic guidance and communication allows peers to deliver the right message when it matters the most. 

3. Establish a gender neutral parental leave policy

Gender-neutral parental leave policies create more options for families and help close the gender pay gap by allowing fathers to take more time off work as the primary carer and mothers to return to the workforce. According to the WGEA’s moving towards gender balance parental leave report, “employers play a key role in normalising the uptake of fathers/partners taking parental leave and flexible working arrangements to meet caring responsibilities. Overall, in Australia the use of parental leave by fathers/partners remains incredibly low. Yet, international comparison shows that the use of parental leave by fathers increases when entitlements are generous and when policies offer flexibility about when leave can be used.”

4. Provide a breastfeeding friendly workplace

Having an office breastfeeding policy is another way for businesses to support mothers in balancing home and work life. These policies can also go a long way towards reaching an employer of choice status.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association gives six guidelines for an an effective workplace breastfeeding policy. They include:

  • A clear statement of who is covered under the policy, such as full-time workers, part-time workers, casual workers, etc.;
  • The specifics of lactation breaks, including duration;
  • Details of the facilities available;
  • Relevant flexible work arrangements;
  • Links to related policies (ie; maternity leave, flexible work, etc.); and
  • Where to seek guidance on implementing the policy

5. Adopt flexible work practices

In PwC’s 2018 report, 95% of 3627 professional women surveyed felt that it’s important to have flexibility so that they can juggle both their career and motherhood. Adopting flexible work practices including movable start and stop times and flex-time will see happier employees, better attendance rates and equivalent productivity in your organisation.  Flexible work has also been proven to reduce stress and attract and retain talented staff.

At Working Mothers Connect we proudly connect mothers with progressive organisations that support women in the workforce. You can advertise your vacancies on our platform by visiting www.workingmothersconnect.com.au or alternatively you can email admin@workingmothersconnect.com.au and our friendly team will be in touch to discuss out services further.