To mark reaching our 50th episode, we are digging into the other side of the working mum equation – the role of employers in making it possible for professional women to lead both successful work and family lives. There is a huge pool of highly skilled women that struggle in the transition back to work after a long career break, which keeps them from truly leveraging their talent and qualifications.

Many women experience “career break penalties” which are not only detrimental to their careers, but also the health of their organization and ultimately its female talent pipeline. It is great to see that many companies are now being intentional and developing better ways to support their female talent pipeline, and we take time today to hear tips that you can bring to your workplace whether you are someone in a leadership position or a new working mum yourself.

 

ELAINE CARNEGIE – Founder, The Parent Effect

Importance of retaining working parents The bottom line is that investing in working moms and their partners is best for a company’s bottom line. Elaine Carnegie, founder of the Parent Effect, emphasizes the importance of appreciating their talented parents. In the long run, she says that retaining their talent, their loyalty, their energy, engagement, and motivation and driving that talent within the organisation will save them time, money, and the headache of trying to find a replacement.

Support from day 1  Carnegie argues that support for new parents start way before the baby arrives. As soon as the announcement is made, the organisation should be changing gears and establishing support systems. She suggests that employees sit down with their manager to ask questions, discuss long-term career objectives, goals, expectations, and concerns

Start anew  Best practice is to treat new parents like new starters. Similar to new employee onboarding, HR representatives and managers should implement a wholistic return program that investigates and addresses their new priorities, perspectives, and new skills sets. Organisation that have these supportive return programs are known to have lower attrition rates.

Impactful managers Carnegie argues that managers play the most crucial role in a new parent’s return to the workplace. In particular she recommends managers being present for their returners, offering established mentoring and coaching services, and making sure that their employees have community by creating networks and What’s App group chats. If organisation can support and empower managers, these kind of practices can make the difference between thriving and drowning for new parents.

 

SARAH FERN – People Director, Saba Software

Work culture  At Saba software, their work culture revolves around talent development, output, and trust. They have seen great success in encouraging people to think creatively when managing work and life balance, while encouraging ongoing communication and transparency with their needs. Just like The Parent Effect, they prescribe regular check-ins and constant manager support. They emphasize and appreciate that one size does not fit all and work together to talk, ask questions, and work together to find the best solutions.

Flexibility  As a software company flexibility and efficiency are in their DNA. They recommend companies experiment scientifically, and figure out by trial and error, what works best for your workers. If you can get your workers develop trust, faith, and loyalty to your organization, you will be able to find solutions.

 

JONATHAN ACHAMPONG – Partner, Wedlake Bell 

Wedlake Bell is an award-winning firm, notable for their gender diversity and high percentage of women at partnership level. Jonathan attributes the success of his firm to flexible and agile working practices.

Flexible and Agile Working  Jonathan recognizes that we all have lives outside of the office, we all have to juggle commitments at home, and at work. To him, flexible work means that his employees can start and finish work at flexible hours, and work from home. However AGILE work is an even more broad concept of support that encourage employees to work where when and how they choose. Agile working also refers to the pace at which new parents transition in and out of the office. His office has implemented new support systems including “enhanced maternity pay,” “enhanced shared parental pay,” and “keeping in touch days.”

Support through technology  He also encourages employees to stay connected with other staff during their break, by attending events, parties, or popping in to say hello with the new little ones. But of course technology has also made it easier for coworkers to stay plugged in. Jonathan urges other organizations to invest in tech and systems that make it easier to support new parents in their return to the workplace.

 

How to change YOUR workplace 

It’s crucial for organisations to challenge the way that they have done things and remember that there’s always room to grow and support your talent. Now that you have heard from top leaders on this issue, how do you go about making these changes in your firm or company?

If you’re in a leadership position, we urge you to take some of these tried and tested ways and implement them into your strategy for the coming new year. If you are looking for support and coaching for your people, LightBOX coaching provides coaching and programmes to support their female talent pipeline. We would love to connect with you. Schedule a call on our website at http://www.lightboxcoaching.com/call.


Learn more about and connect with our guests:

ELAINE CARNEGIE – The Parent Effect

SARAH FERN – Saba Software

JONATHAN ACHAMPONG – Wedlake Bell

Book Recommendations

  • The 5th Trimester – Lauren Smith Brody
  • Back to Work After Baby – Laurie  Hallock Leven
  • Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work – Jessica Chivers
  • Baby Proof Your Career: The Secret To Balancing Work and Family So You Can Enjoy It All – Caroline Flanagan

Other Episodes You Might Like 

Episode 23 – Babyproof your career with Caroline Flanagan

Episode 37 – Leading a flexible law firm with Beth Gray 

Episode 42 – Creating flexible working opportunities in the legal sector with Alan Reid


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Janine Esbrand helps working moms thrive in their careers and in motherhood. She shares tips and inspirational conversations with awesome women to help reduce the struggle in the juggle.

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