The Workplace - April 2018

The Workplace - Guy HaywardImagine being lost to the world of work. Imagine the huge sense of frustration that you are unable to enjoy the unique sense of fulfilment and excitement that only doing a great day’s work can bring. For many mothers this is often the reality and a sense that their career, which was once enjoyed and cherished, will be no more.

This needs to change – and as an industry we should be showing others how this is possible.

Some of our best fee earners and managers are female, yet at the point of starting a family they leave our sector as they feel it is impossible to return. As a consequence, we lose an amazing pool of talent. We also lose the opportunity to have a healthy group of female senior managers and future board members.

We’re trying to address this. We have a stated aim that we want our first female board member by 2020. Our Women in Leadership programme – which looks at regaining one’s identity, building confidence, influencing, leadership, decision-making, personal brand, building a career road map, the work life issue and most of all how to make this happen – is playing an important role in helping mothers return to the workplace. (Glamour magazine recognised this by suggesting that we were a top 20 UK workplace for females.)

The support shown by SThree Careers is impressive, with its returning-to-work post-baby programme. Its maternity buddy scheme has seen 84% of female employees who have taken maternity leave return to work since its introduction, and there is a real maturity with supporting working from home.

Flexible working increasingly suits the modern workplace, and it sits perfectly with helping mothers return to work – as does job sharing, the freedom to work from home and help with supporting childcare. We should all embrace it. Which is the better of two options? Youth and presenteeism or age and experience? A combination of both clearly, yet the latter is often overlooked.

London Business School estimates that 70% of women fear taking a career break and those who do often put off returning to work at all. Let’s reduce this percentage, as is the aim of Women Returners, an organisation that works with companies and individuals to help women back to work.

What else can we be doing? The importance of family is something we feel strongly about and something that we actively promote through our Freedom to Come and Go programme. If your son is playing in a school football match, go and watch him play. If your daughter is competing in an interschool cross-country event, leave the office, stick on your overcoat, and stand and watch her. No one should miss out on being a parent. Our working parents love it … so will yours, I’m sure.

Nobody should feel that they are lost to the world of work … we should be doing everything in our power to ensure that this isn’t the case.

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