Being able to retain female talent is critical for the Welsh economy and the businesses that fuel it.
By ensuring pregnant women and new mothers are safe in the workplace and treated fairly, you:
- show your commitment to diversity, inclusiveness and gender equality
- help remove barriers to career progression and pay equality for women
- affirm that your organisation is family friendly
- enjoy the benefits associated with a diverse, engaged and flexible workforce
- get access to wider, more diverse talent
- improve retention rates
- develop trust and better communication between management and employees
- demonstrate to all your staff that you have their interests at heart
Fully capitalising on the skills and talents of everyone is important. Companies that retain more women are not only doing the right thing but can also gain financial dividends. Businesses in the top quarter for gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform the national industry statistics.
There are simple steps that you can take to make sure your workplace is the best it can be for pregnant and new mums.
2. Leadership from the top down
Strong leadership from the top down is key to building the right foundation. It ensures that everyone in the company is aware of your policies and commitments and on board with your aims, so that supporting pregnant and new mums becomes part of the culture.
- Nominate a representative at senior level to focus on improving practice in relation to pregnancy, maternity and return to work. Make sure everyone else knows about them.
- Communicate your commitment to supporting pregnant women and new mothers to your employees, customers and suppliers.
- Set targets for retention of women returning from maternity leave, and be accountable for these.
- Monitor changes and use the data to identify and address barriers to women progressing or being retained in the workplace.
3. Ensuring confident employees
It is important that employees feel able to initiate an open, 2-way conversation with their line manager. If they are supported in working together to put plans in place for their pregnancy, maternity leave and return to work, it can lead to higher levels of employee satisfaction and increased staff retention.
- Communicate company maternity and pregnancy policies, initiatives and health and safety risk assessments and ensure employees can access and understand them.
- Set up a support network for working parents.
- Offer 1-2-1 peer support and mentoring.
- Provide employees with a communications plan that they can tailor to cover pregnancy, maternity and return to work, and ensure early ongoing conversations with their line managers.
4. Training and supporting line managers
Line managers are the first point of contact for pregnant employees and mothers returning to the workplace, so it is crucial that they’re equipped and feel supported to have early conversations with their team and put a plan in place – together.
- Set up an advice service and a peer-to-peer support network for line managers.
- Encourage all line managers to complete the free ACAS maternity/pregnancy training course.
- Offer advice to line managers on how to identify and tackle health and safety risks for both pregnancy and breastfeeding, and set up a communication plan with employees.
5. Flexible working practices
It is widely recognised that a key component in the progression and retention of women in work – and indeed everyone - is the provision of flexible working. This in turn can have a positive impact on the bottom line: engaged employees are known to perform better at work, and improved employee engagement is related to improved financial performance.
- Advertise all jobs as open to flexible working (where appropriate) and promote a wide range of flexible working practices.
- Trial new ways of working.
- Be transparent and clear about the types of flexible working the organisation has considered, offered and granted.
- Celebrate and showcase examples where flexible working is successful.
6. Further information
Useful advice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission
- Join the Working Forward network to gain access to a wealth of advice and resources including conversation guides to help communication between managers and employers:
Other useful information and advice
- An employer’s guide to Statutory Maternity Pay and Leave
- Timewise can work with business leaders to persuade them of the business case for flexibility, audit your current position or develop a flexible working programme that fits with your organisational strategy: