Views from HR/EDI & Talent Practitioners
"I wish I had had access to this kind of support and advice during my maternity leave. If I were still employed in my HR role, I would be factoring the purchase of Mothers Work! into my budget to hand out to all women going off to have babies. For smaller employers who cannot afford maternity coaching programmes, this book is a no brainer investment to help retain female talent." Stephanie Wheeler, McKinsey & Company alumni
Footage from our 'Hidden Talent Action Tank' 2016 with Andrea Jones, O2.
Q&A with Andrea Jones, O2.
Els Hol-Ferman, Talent Acquisition Director, Avanade.
Q&A with three career returners.
This page is written with practitioners in talent management, learning and development and equality, diversity & inclusion in mind. Thinking about running a returner programme? Need to better support your returning female talent? Find answers and ideas here.
In an ideal world talk of gender diversity, leaky talent pipes, quotas for women on boards and chatter about the ideal length of maternity leave will be redundant and youʼll focus your attention on another vital part of your multi-faceted role.
According to McKinseyʼs A Business Case for Women report, by 2040 Europe will have a shortfall of 24 million workers aged 15-65 and raising the proportion of women in the workforce to that of men could cut the gap to 3 million. From the report: “Companies can raise retention rates by offering flexible hours, maternity and child-care leaves and coaching to ease the return to the workforce.”
In addition, if we continue to leak women from the talent pipeline at the rate we currently do (especially during the early years of becoming a parent) it will be very difficult to change the balance of UK boards. Managing maternity transitions makes sense in the broader context of maintaining gender diversity at senior levels. One estimate is that it will take 70 years to achieve gender balance at the current rate of change. (Equality & Human Rights Commission, 2008).
And why does this matter? Putting aside the moral argument, as you know diversity correlates with stronger financials. For example, see Adlerʼs (2001) research that shows “…the 25 Fortune 500 firms with the best record of promoting women to high positions are between 18 and 69% more profitable than the median 500 firms in their industries.”
What we do
We work collaboratively with people like you to deliver parts of the L&D and EDI agenda that relate to returning talent. Our work falls into two camps which we loosely define as ʻsupport the womenʼ (returner programmes, one to one coaching and workshops to support the return transition and ongoing development) and ʻshape the cultureʼ activities (workshops for managers on how to boost performance post career break and how to make flexible working work). Our experience is that the two go hand in hand and thereʼs much more on the related pages:
- Is a returner programme right for your organisation?
- Support the women – one to one career comeback coaching
- Support the woman – workshops
- Shape the culture – manager workshops and guides
For a summary of the compelling reasons for sponsoring maternity comeback coaching, click here to download our free paper. Subscribe to our latest thinking e-mails and gain access to our short research-based strategies for success report.
Letʼs put our heads together
Wed be pleased to have a broad chat and bounce ideas around over coffee or offer our experience to help you solve a specific issue. If you see merit in what weʼre doing and would value an open conversation please be in touch – most of our work with new clients starts this way. Every leader, L&D, HR, Talent and Equality & Diversity manager we meet is operating in a different context so we listen, ask lots of questions (and listen some more) before exploring possible solutions. And we never try to fix something if we donʼt think itʼs broken or weʼre not the appropriate solution.
- Our latest thinking section where we digest research related to keeping, supporting and stretching female talent.
- Coaching Women to Lead by Averil Leimon et al
(Routledge, 2011). See our review in Coaching at Work magazine.
- Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl
Sandberg (WH Allen, 2012). Itʼs an impressive, eyeopening and valuable resource for managers, leaders and EDI practitioners with no less than 35 pages of academic references. Weʼve digested Lean In chapter by chapter and
produced a 38 minute lunch-break audio version.
- Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work by Jessica Chivers (Hay House, 2011). Carillion, PayPal, RBS, Vocalink and Veolia are giving copies to their maternity returners.
- Rocking the Boat: How to Effect Change Without
Making Trouble by Debra Meyerson (Harvard Business School Publishing, 2008). How to build diverse, adaptive, family-friendly and socially responsible workplaces not through revolution, but by walking the tightrope between conformity and rebellion.
Viewpoint - Alina Sandell, Head of Talent, Veolia Water
Within Veolia Water, we recognise that helping our people through career transitions such as maternity leave has a positive impact on talent retention, diversity and business performance.
So we worked with Talent Keepers to produce a caring and sensible coaching guide for managers to help place Maternity Leavers in the best mind space possible before they go on Maternity leave, and to help them return to peak levels of confidence and performance upon their return.
Ostensibly the guide covers the needs of women in career transition, however the learning and coaching approach can be applied to any employee (those returning from sabbatical, long term sick, career break etc.).
To ensure that managers can embed coaching behaviours, we have also used Talent Keepers expertise in our ʻEnabling Diversityʼ workshop – providing a safe, challenging and interactive environment for managers to explore any preconceptions they might have around the feasibility of flexible working, assumptions they might have on the appetite for returning employees to take charge of their career, or anxiety they might have on the appropriateness and timing of certain conversations.
Our approach isnʼt complex or academic, but then the most practicable and impactful solutions arenʼt.