Maintaining a career whilst raising a family can be a serious challenge – especially for new mums. Add the responsibilities of a full time job to sleepless nights, aching bodies and teething babies, and being a working mum becomes the most arduous of balancing acts.
Historically there has been a stigma around new mums in the work place and many companies still overlook the benefits that working mothers bring to business. This is despite the fact that over 50 percent of working mothers believe that being a mum helps add to their work place skills.
Among the wealth of ‘new motherhood’ skills that are transferable, many women cite time management, effective prioritisation and well-honed emotional intelligence, all of which lead to increased productivity. Research has proven time and again that having mums in the office can lead to improved company culture, increased financial performance and better business innovation.
Recently though, concern over how to cater for new mothers and potential new mothers in the workplace has gained significant traction. A few high profile instances of big companies and governments making positive changes has re-ignited discussions over what business owners can do provide the healthiest and most productive environment for new and prospective parents.
So, what’s the consensus? There are simple ways companies can create a better environment for mums. These include offering flexible working hours, which can help mums to better balance work and home life. Subsidised childcare can also play a major role in reducing the financial burden and gives mums more time to dedicate to their role.
It seems that ‘support services’ has become the umbrella term to encompass these changes and many businesses are discovering that being innovative within this category can be hugely important as a means of retaining and attracting talent.
Take Goldman Sachs for example who are offering prospective parents on their staff up to $20,000 (£15,500) to cover the costs of extracting, freezing or purchasing donated eggs. As part of its latest efforts to boost equality and close the gender pay gap, Goldman is providing funds for processes which can help increase the chances of parenthood for same sex couples, women who want to delay having children or others who struggle to conceive.
Support for prospective parents in the work place has also been prevalent on a governmental level. New legislation in New Zealand gives parents a right to three days’ paid leave if they suffer a miscarriage (at any time during the pregnancy) or a still birth. The right also applies to those welcoming a child through adoption or surrogacy.
This high profile legislation has since seen a global surge in support for miscarriages, with many companies in the UK including Channel 4 and Monzo following New Zealand’s pioneering example. A sea change in miscarriage policy has subsequently held the open for discussions on how new mums can best be supported.
The current situation with the Coronavirus pandemic has heightened the challenges faced by working mums. Lockdown demanded them to be full time carers, employees, educators and entertainers all at once. But whilst the last year has been unsettling to say the least, it has offered the opportunity to learn new working practises such as working from home. Whilst the benefits of home working have been the subject of much debate within businesses, many companies have seen the value in these flexible working practises and are planning to maintain them in the post-pandemic era.
It would seem that 2021 is seeing the beginnings of a positive snowball effect for mothers in the workplace. Not only is more credit given to working mums but the fact that they are mum’s in the first place is now being more widely viewed as a business asset as opposed to a burden. Whilst this attitude is yet to be universal, there is certainly more consideration for new mums and soon-to-be mums in the workplace.
Motherhood may be the most rewarding job there is, but it certainly isn’t easy and the more accommodating businesses become, the better.