How to create inclusive workplaces for mothers
Mums: we have it tough when returning to the world of work, given that it hasn’t been built to include us. Whether it's starting a new job or returning to your employer, it feels like a constant battle of balancing a career and family for the first few months. So why do workplaces make this battle even more difficult?
Although we are sometimes made to feel like it is, motherhood is not the problem. The structures and systems in which women attempt to have children and a career are. For instance, we can’t always work traditional hours and often can't return to full-time employment. But sadly it is not being disrupted. In the post-pandemic landscape, mothers are continuing to endure the disruptions caused by unemployment and increased unpaid work within the home.
So how can employers support working mothers? First and foremost is flexibility. Flexible working hours and utilising remote or hybrid working are the two of the quickest wins that working parents need to effectively return to work and manage their family life.
Then there are the smaller ways of supporting us that reduce stress. Not having team meetings during school commute times. Embracing working parents bringing their children to meetings. Being understanding if there are disruptions. These attitudes come from companies with a strong company culture, whose core values centre around trust, transparency and inclusivity.
However, in reality, we need policies. Policies are the long-term promises that working parents need to feel supported effectively. Policies like: flexible working; enhanced maternity and paternity leave; remote working; and supplemented child care costs. Companies can easily implement these policies and make a big difference.
I strongly believe we have an incredible opportunity to reset the way we work. Since championing working mothers on my LinkedIn, I’ve researched many shocking statistics about the motherhood penalty, and met many mothers who have shared their personal stories.
This is why I’m striving for change. I am fortunate: I own and run a recruitment company where I can make a difference immediately. We embrace flexible working through a results-only work environment and have fostered a supportive culture. I could return to work as flexibly as I liked after having my baby. But all mothers deserve the same feeling of being included when they return to work – no exceptions.