Transitioning in and out of the workforce isn’t simple, especially when you add a life-changing event like becoming a parent into the mix, overlaid with a mine full of gendered expectations as to who and what you will do. In the many coaching sessions we’ve conducted over the years, women transitioning out of the workplace tell us one of two things, either they want the person who is replacing them to be good…but not quite as good as them. Or, they tell us their manager is redistributing their workload amongst the whole team…so are they technically redundant?
“How long are you taking off?” “How many days are you returning?” “Who is looking after your child?” “Are you sure you’ll be able to handle all that?” “But what about his career?”
Grace Papers is here to help you answer all these questions and more. We support you to know what you need, and get what you want. To manage the transitions whilst still realising your full professional potential and staying true to your parenting legacy.
There are many external factors influencing your return to work decisions, from finances to accessible childcare, but there are also many internal factors you can control. By properly preparing yourself and those around you, and by considering who you are and what you want, you will be successful in transitioning in and out of the workforce while starting a family.
Here are our tips for women looking to smoothly transition into maternity leave and back to work.
Tip 1: Don’t doubt the data.
One in two women experience pregnancy related discrimination either while pregnant, while on maternity leave, or upon their return to work. But most women don’t believe it can or will happen to them.
Tip 2: Know thy stakeholder – both internal and external.
Take some time to contemplate their potential biases, and how you might respond. That will give you a chance to address it in the moment, and reduce the risk of it manifesting as discrimination.
Tip 3. Have a transitioning plan.
Develop a professional vision – and then, communicate it to your stakeholders. A professional vision is your career navigation system. It keeps you focused on where your career is heading, even if the world – manager, team, sponsor – around you is changing rapidly.
Tip 4: Talk to your partner about expectations.
What do you believe? Do you believe that fathers can do everything mothers can? Do you (or does your partner, parents or parents-in-law) believe that a father’s primary responsibility is to provide financially? Unlocking the gendered expectations is the key to ensuring that you can both, equally, fulfil your career and parenting aspirations.
Tip 5: Know your value.
Know your value and how to sell it. At Grace Papers we call this your individual employee value proposition, and it is the best tool to help your return to work conversation. It also gives you the confidence to negotiate flexibility (including part time that is really part time, not five days a week crammed into three), and to set boundaries about what is and isn’t up for negotiation.
Don’t know where to start? That’s why we’re here to help. Grace Papers has all the tools and step-by-step support you need to help you successfully transition into parenthood without sacrificing your career, your identity and your values.