How can you retain your talented working mothers?


Businesses still aren’t realising how much more skilled women are after they have had a child, and aren’t fighting to keep mothers in the workplace.

Did you know, that 1 in 4 women with children under 2 years of age will permanently leave the workforce? It is a significant cost to businesses, who have invested in training and development of their key talent, and who often don’t realise how much more skilled women are after they have had a baby – their crisis management skills are exceptional for starters! Retaining talent is a key priority for business. Yet many women, especially once they become parents, continue to face organisational, social and mindset barriers when pursuing their professional goals. Planning, supporting and harnessing career ambition are critical to breaking down the substantial and well-documented bias barriers that exist for working mothers.

With a focus on communication and not just legislation, Grace Papers and our digital coaching platform will empower you to retain your female talent and contribute to a workplace that supports all working parents to bring their whole selves to work. After all, if your employee is expected to work in a manner that doesn’t acknowledge her family priorities, you most certainly won’t be realising the full benefit of her potential.

Add value to someone’s professional vision

One of the first things we do as part of the Grace Papers program is get users to imagine and define their professional vision. Their vision for the type of work they want to do, environment they want to be in, values they want to carry out in their work and much more. A professional vision is key to anyone’s success. It’s a career road map that does the heavy lifting. It inspires change, engages and compels action, and the more engaging and compelling, the greater the pull, and the stronger the connection to the workplace, and likelihood of a long term attachment to career.

Once they have defined their vision, we ask them to share it with their manager and anyone else that can sponsor steps towards them achieving their vision.

Some individuals are capable of developing their professional vision unassisted, whereas others require a little more support. Either way, managers are in a position to add value by adopting the use of coaching style questions:

  1.  What do you want?
  2. What is the vision?
  3. What is the dream?
  4. What does it look, taste, smell, sound and feel like?

TIP: The rule of thumb is not to ask “how” questions at this point in time – focus on the “what” questions.


Limiting Beliefs

As a manager, honing in on someone’s professional vision is an opportunity to explore potential and commitment, and we encourage managers to have authentic conversations around both concepts.

In Step 3 of the Program, we ask users to reflect on their limiting beliefs, what beliefs are holding them back from achieving their professional vision. As a manager, it is also important at this stage to reflect on your own limiting beliefs about their staff member’s capacity to live her professional vision. For some, the limiting beliefs may be attached to the domestic challenges, which is particularly the case within certain cultures.

Some questions you might like to ask your staff member are:

  1. What is the next growth step towards your professional vision?
  2. What do you need?
  3. Is there anything holding you back?
  4. How might we transform your limiting beliefs into positive mantras?

What are your Biases?

It’s also worthwhile as a manager to consider your own biases around working parents. It is only with the benefit of self awareness, that we can drive positive and inclusive cultures. For managers, if the culture is right, a lot of the heavy lifting gets done.

It is therefore worthwhile considering your own biases. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How much have my own experiences influenced the way I manage working parents in my team?
  2. What is privilege, and what advantages have I received to enable me to be in this role?
  3. What symbols of inclusion (including for working parents) are there in my team?
  4. Am I clear on the benefits of diversity & inclusion for my team?
  5. Do I know how engaged working parents are in my team?

If you are already a parent then you may be tempted to try and tell your parental leaver how to do it. Beware, your well intentioned advice may not be taken as you had hoped and instead may serve to undermine the empowerment principles – self responsibility, belief in self, positive attitude, trust, flowing with change and owning power – you are seeking to instil in the individual.

Empowering your employees:

Managers are in the business of retaining their talent, and that’s exactly what we help you to do. Our team of lawyers, psychologists and designers have developed a comprehensive platform that guides individuals and their managers through the pregnancy, parental leave and return to work journey.

Our Tips:

  • Focus on the importance of her professional vision;
  • Find ways to articulate the value you place on the role of (working) parents and carers;
  • Trust their judgment by asking for and accepting their opinion – but be open to change.