You recently became pregnant and expect to continue working through the pregnancy and after maternity leave? Although the initial reaction has been positive, you believe it’s likely you will face negative consequences in the office? You are not alone, 81% of pregnant women and planners think it’s not possible to have a career while being a mother in today‘s society, as most employers don’t provide the adequate structure and support for working mums. Childcare shortage isn't the only problem. Others, like skill-transfer, part time work and flexible time, are as crucial. And yet, these issues are rarely addressed by companies, who tend to perceive mothers as less committed to their job than fathers or women without children, and to believe women need to make a choice.
Luckily some firms understand that motherhood is something to be proud of and that should be valued in the workplace. Patience, time management and the ability to multitask are some of the transferable qualifications employers can appreciate in mums. If you’re able to, try to find a family friendly employer that will understand that flexible working has many benefits for a company: it can reduce the need for expensive office space and tackle skills shortages. Why hire someone full-time if you need staff for a few hours a week only? And it goes without saying that in addition to business productivity, it increases employee engagement and retention, which are very important aspects.
If your company doesn’t offer this flexibility, talk to your manager and explain how this would benefit the firm’s productivity and reputation. As a mum returning to work you will be the best example that work flexibility is possible for you and all employees, and that performance should not be measured by the number of hours worked, but rather by the results achieved or targets met. And at a time when companies recognise more and more the importance of corporate values and good governance, supporting a working mum would demonstrate their commitment to best practices.
Changing the perception of motherhood in the workplace is likely to take some time but it can be improved now and you have an important part to play in this! Speak out on how becoming a mother has enriched you both personally and professionally, and why not display proudly on your CV your maternity leave and the skills you have gained since. Use social media to spread the word and share any positive experience you may have had in your workplace. Employees are the most reliable source of information for new hires looking for a satisfying work environment. Hopefully this will encourage companies to adapt to the changing work context.