As a working mum of three, my family and my career are two of the biggest parts of my life.
So important to me, but usually pretty separate. Where these two worlds collide is in parental leave, and after experiencing it three (very different) times myself and watching friends navigate similar challenges, what I’d learned is that even with statutory policies in place, and robust package offerings from employers, your experience can vary wildly.
I’ve held senior management and director positions myself throughout my time in marketing and been on both sides of the parental leave process, seeing first-hand how important communication is between manager, HR and employee. As a manager I wanted my team to return from parental leave feeling healthy, happy and excited to return, and as someone embarking on leave, I wanted to feel informed of my options and secure of my position within my team.
After my own experiences and listening to my friends’ stories, I spoke to over 100 women and line managers, and everywhere I turned the same themes emerged. The more I researched, the more I discovered how common and widespread the problem is. I was finding more and more that is isn’t just the maternity package that made a real difference (though of course this helps), but rather the communication between line manager and employee.
Managers I spoke to said they often felt unsure in what to say to expectant parents, and working parents shared how uncertain they had been of finances, legal options and support available, and felt they became disconnected from their workplace during their leave period. Ultimately this lead to increasing anxiety about their return and in some cases deciding not to return at all.
In far too many cases, the onus is on the parent to do their own research, initiate conversations and navigate often confusing information all while juggling the practical and emotional aspects of preparing for a new arrival. And rather than providing proactive support to ensure staff retention and well-being through this crucial life stage, companies are often relying totally on the relationship between line manager and employee to ensure a positive parental leave experience.
With Raise, I’m making it my mission to address this issue, giving both line managers and employees the tools they need to stay connected, plan successfully and make full use of the statutory and company benefits available to them.
The idea for Raise was born in early 2021, and since then I’ve sought the advice of HR experts, psychology professionals, start-up founders and of course, over 100 women, building up a solid picture of exactly what Raise can offer. I’m thrilled to be part of the Femtech Lab programme, and to be testing the Raise app with founding clients, making sure we have the best service possible ahead of a full launch in 2022.
Rebecca Barrie, Founding Partner & CEO