One-size fits no one
Just as there is no universal experience of motherhood, Loaiza’s research found that there is not a universal experience of coming back from maternity leave. A fact that, she believes, makes listening vital: “We can’t assume that everyone’s circumstances are the same.” This is a particular challenge for line managers who may have experience of the traditional working dad and stay-at-home mum model in their own family. Or who could afford to pay for a full-time nanny.
Loaiza’s research confirmed that gender isn’t a boundary to either supporting or hindering mothers who return to the workplace. Notably the mantra of women supporting women is something of an empty one in some corners of the industry: “For some, the senior women that they worked for very much has an attitude of I’ve worked really hard to get here, in a structured way and I don’t see why it should be any different for you.”
Such a short-sighted approach perhaps helps to explain data from Creative Equals which shows that 12% of women are planning on leaving the industry in the next two years.
Mind the empathy gap
The research revealed the two biggest concerns surrounding having children were work life balance and the impact of taking time out of the office on career advancement. While 76% of companies offer flexible working, 86% of respondents think there are a lack of role models truly demonstrating flexible working roles.
The survey suggested the two biggest things that would make a difference to working parents were flexible working and empathetic managers who understood the needs of individual people. However, the survey revealed a lack of experience amongst managers, with 63% of managers saying they were not supported in helping team members reintegrate after maternity leave and 58% were not given any guidance on their company’s return to work policy.
“We recognise that upskilling managers to support working parents is just as important as supporting the parents themselves,” explained Loaiza. To this end the Baby Bounce Back programme is not just a programme for mothers, but also for leaders and managers seeking to build happy and high-performing teams.
In 2020 the Futures Network will be launching a range of support to help more parents thrive in the workplace. By placing support at the cornerstone of success, Loaiza proves that far from being a full-stop, motherhood can in fact broaden your horizons and be the fuel for more meaningful growth in business.