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  • rebeccaleng

The silent crisis in early parenthood

Earlier this year, as the idea for Raise began to take shape, co-founders Rebecca and Katharine began to research issues surrounding parental leave, speaking to over 100 women to add depth to industry and government research.

A picture soon emerged of a system that varies wildly between companies, relying heavily on the parent to be to piece together their own research and on the quality of the relationship with their line manager.

With parental leave a crucial stage in life and career, it’s our mission to bring this experience in line with the progressive times we live in, to help employers meet the recommendations laid out in the Equality and Human Rights Report* and to turn parental leave into a positive experience for both line manager and parent.

Given that the report* found that 75% of mothers have experienced negative or discriminatory treatment whilst pregnant or on maternity leave, this is a significant issue, applicable across all companies.

Our own research found that 38% of women did not feel actively supported by their employer while pregnant and at work. Once on leave, 41% of the women we spoke to said they received no information from their employer during their time away, with 14% deciding not to return to work for their previous employer at all.

At Raise we believe a balance in communication is key, with our research finding employees often “felt forgotten the moment they walked out the door”, or returned to work unaware of changes in their team – even significant ones like being given a new line manager. Of the people who did return to the same employer, 75% experienced changes to their role, with many reporting a lack of information or discussion surrounding the changes before returning.

The return to work is a crucial event in the employee/employer relationship, and can be understandably full of anxiety from a new parent’s perspective. Two thirds of did not feel actively supported in the lead up to their return to the business, with 40% reporting the transition as difficult and only 4% being offered a structured plan ahead of their return date. Worries around marrying work and parenthood also emerge at this stage, with one third of women saying they felt uncomfortable asking for flexibility due to concerns about negative consequences.

Throughout all these stages, the manager relationship is crucial in terms of support, communication and flexibility. Our research showed only 46% felt they had a positive relationship with their line manager upon returning to work, as opposed to 78% finding this positive prior to pregnancy and leave.

The Raise platform gives employers a whole company solution to support colleagues through parental leave, from beginning to end. The journey can be completely personalised to both company and to employee, and offers a range of tools, expert content, advice, company messaging and update functions and easy to use templates. We also partner with leading providers, enabling companies to offer a blended platform and in person approach to supporting their employees.

Through designing Raise to meet EHRC recommendations around communication, advice, culture, inclusion and commitment, the platform enables companies to become exemplary in this area. In doing so, they can attract, retain and grow employees through this crucial life-stage.

* Pregnancy and Maternity Related Discrimination & Disadvantage, Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2015 – survey of 3000 employers and 3000 mothers.

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