I (Al) have been providing maternity coaching for mothers at work for over 10 years. I like to think I was a pioneer of this kind of coaching and have clocked up thousnds of hours whilst working with this group. After all this time I’ve learned a thing or two about this important transition:
- the mindset, attitudes and behaviours of working women,
- the real needs of families as they go through this huge life event
- the ways that organisations who prioritise this kind of support reap rewards in the short and longer term.
All of the above have progressed over that 10 year period and I love responding to the ever changing demands of working women (and their families).
Like any sensible person however, I also have to consider a time when this type of coaching will not be needed. In fact, I genuinely hope that is that case. Increasingly, companies are formally recognising the business importance of inclusion and equality. They are identifying the ‘pain points’ that can derail even the most promising employee. That’s not to say enough of this is prioritised.
And then I came across a study from late 2019 that surveyed 1,000 working mothers. It found the following:
- Over half (54%) struggled to balance time between childcare and work
- 52% felt guilty about leaving their child
- One-third (33%) struggled financially with the cost of childcare
- 17% felt marginalised or excluded by colleagues
- 14% said their colleagues were unsupportive and inflexible
On reading this I realised that maternity coaching is not going away any time soon. These are the experiences I have been dealing with since I started and it is what maternity coaching is there to address. If the issues found in the study are not dealt with in a timely and practical way, then it has serious implications for working mothers and their employers. By my calculation, (and extensive anecdotal l experience) if the maternity transition is not well managed, a woman’s career can be set back/waylaid by up to 10 years!!
According to ONS figures  three quarters of women with children are now in employment compared to two thirds at the beginning of the 80”s. This has been driven by increased educational levels and improved maternity leave but also by a reduction in benefits and the some of the highest childcare costs in Europe.
However, despite the introduction of extended parental leave, it is still women who change their working hours and patterns to accommodate the needs of their families and therein lies the problem. If mothers face most of the ‘juggle struggle’, are under the most pressure in terms of time and availability and carry the mental load for their entire family, they are going to struggle.
This is not even about personal resilience, this is a heavily loaded situation that does not favour mothers. Until the equality deficit is addressed and parents can share parental leave and family responsibilities without any detrimental effects on both their careers, maternity (or parental) coaching is the best way to support employees at this time.
Look out for separate posts detailing the top 10 benefits for mothers and organisations.
 DPG PLC 2019
ONS working parent data 2019