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Accommodating the needs of new mothers is a major step employers can take in an effort to retain and promote female employees. When long maternity leave and flexible work schedules are provided by an employer, women are more likely to stay with a company, grow in their positions and be strong contributors to the organization.
The business case for hiring, promoting and nurturing women in an organization is that it is better for the company itself. Companies with the highest representation of women in the boardroom tend to experience better&a;nbsp;&l;a href=&q;https://www.cnbc.com/id/48434935&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;financial performance&l;/a&g; than those without female representation. Finding and holding on to great employees is one of the biggest challenges that companies face. As&a;nbsp;87%&a;nbsp;of HR leaders say &l;a href=&q;https://www.kronos.com/about-us/newsroom/employee-burnout-crisis-study-reveals-big-workplace-challenge-2017&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;improving retention&l;/a&g; is a high priority for their company, investing in a more nurturing work environment for new mothers may be the answer.
Women only make up 8.1%&a;nbsp;of &l;a href=&q;https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/reports/2014/03/07/85457/fact-sheet-the-womens-leadership-gap/&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;top earners&l;/a&g; in the United States. One reason women are not rising to the top may be a question of biology. In fact, 43%&a;nbsp;of highly qualified women with children &l;a href=&q;https://hbr.org/2005/03/off-ramps-and-on-ramps-keeping-talented-women-on-the-road-to-success&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;leave the workplace&l;/a&g; or take a break for a period of time.
Women are more likely to go back to work and stay working during their resocialization back into the workplace if they are able to take on a flexible work schedule. One&a;nbsp;&l;a href=&q;http://files.kff.org/attachment/kaiser-family-foundation-new-york-times-cbs-news-non-employed-poll-topline&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;recent study&l;/a&g;&a;nbsp;found that 67% of women who are not working by choice would be likely to go back to work if they have flexible hours.&a;nbsp;&l;a href=&q;https://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2014/apr/24/flexible-working-career-progression-work-life-balance&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Flexible work arrangements&l;/a&g;&a;nbsp;are linked to higher feelings of balance and job satisfaction, as well as a higher likelihood of being promoted. Firms have a lot to gain from earning their employees&s; loyalty and trust through flexibility and understanding.
One firm that is taking employee retention very seriously is Snapchat creator Snap Inc. A long, paid maternity leave and in-house childcare are two benefits they offer new mothers. I had the pleasure of speaking with Nona Yadegar, a senior manager at Snap. She recently became a new mother and is looking forward to returning to work after her six-month paid maternity leave.
&a;ldquo;By the time I head back, my baby will be sleeping through the night and I will have taken full advantage of bonding time with my son,&a;rdquo; said Yadegar.
When asked if she would have gone back to work without such a flexible policy, she responded: &a;ldquo;My goal is to have a long and fruitful career in leadership positions, but I&a;rsquo;m only going to be able to do that at organizations with family-friendly policies. It would be very difficult to work at a place that does not recognize me as a mother. In the first six weeks of his life, I was feeding my son every two to three hours, and it&a;rsquo;s hard to imagine being put in such a difficult position: staying up all night with a baby, heading to work without any sleep, pumping when you have a minute to provide your child with breast milk, and then coming home to do it all over again.&a;rdquo;
I can relate. Four months after giving birth to my first child, I re-entered the workplace — the transition was incredibly difficult. I felt guilty, sad and sleep deprived. I asked myself daily what I was doing at the office when I had a four-month-old baby at home. I spent the next few months reevaluating my career choice. It was not until I left my corporate job to join a boutique firm that offered flexible work hours and a management that understood my lifestyle and priorities that I was able to get back to work with complete focus and dedication. I now work full-time with the understanding that my hours may not be standard. If I am doing something with my children during standard work hours, I make up those hours after they go to bed or early in the morning.
There is an enormous struggle for women to acclimate back to normal working life after having a baby. Many need to reassess who they are as a mother and a professional. There is the question of child care and of breastfeeding, in which most states do not have laws to give women breaks to nurse or pump. Once a mother has adjusted to that life, the challenge continues with creating a balance in motherhood and life. A company that understands the challenges mothers face and allows for flexibility such as longer maternity leave, flexible work arrangements and child care could have the key to helping retain their great female employees, leaders and future leaders.
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&l;em&g;Steel Peak Wealth Management, LLC (&a;ldquo;Steel Peak&a;rdquo;) is an &l;/em&g;SEC registered&l;em&g; investment adviser in California. For additional information about Steel Peak, refer to the firm&a;rsquo;s disclosure statement as set forth on Form ADV, available on the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure &l;/em&g;web site&l;em&g; (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov).&l;/em&g;
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