Keeping Mum

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One aspect of diversity and inclusion that’s not often discussed is how well organisations treat women returning after maternity leave, and the impact this can have on engagement.

An article in HR magazine that caught our attention recently discusses how the attitudes organisations have towards maternity leave affects women when they return to work.

Just like any of us, mothers returning to work need to feel a sense of belonging to their organisations. They want to feel as much a part of the organisational culture as they did before they left. But how a mothers' time away is viewed by line managers and the wider organisation can have a significant impact on engagement and performance. 

Subconscious bias can lead to women feeling stereotyped and judged on their return to work, with employers discussing availability issues and changes in priorities.

The research carried out reveals some solutions, however:

  • Organisations who view maternity leave as a brief interlude rather than a major disruption are more likely to retain high-performing mothers.

  • Importance of buddy schemes - new mothers felt more inspired to progress in their careers when they had role models they could look up to.       

  • Organisations need to be more inclusive of parents by introducing initiatives such as adoption leave, shared parental leave and flexible working.

If we look at our own organisations, what is being done to ensure mothers can re-engage easily and give their best? The risk of losing key talent is too great to ignore.

To explore more impacts of subconscious bias come to our next Breakfast of Change on Diversity and Inclusion - details below.


Once a quarter we bring together a cross-section of people for a unique Breakfast of Change. Each event brings fresh thinking to a challenge holding individuals and organisations back. 

Using the power of the network to explore new possibilities, Breakfast of Change kickstarts the day and reinvigorates the agent of change in each of us.

Join our next Breakfast of Change on 12th July, 8.30-10.45am in King's Cross, London. Click here for details and to reserve your spot.