An unusual new policy for working mothers- Washington Post

Carly here!

I was a full-time Realtor when I had my first baby, seven and a half years ago. I vividly remember waddling around at 40 weeks pregnant showing off “open spaces” to a couple hoping to build their dream home. It was a hot September and I couldn’t believe the combination of lumbering through property after property and the 85+ degree temps weren’t spurring on some sort of labor pains! (My daughter Calla didn’t show up until ten days after my due date.)

When she did show up, I envisioned not missing a beat! I sent work emails in the hospital and set up a work meeting with the owner of the company two weeks after she was born. Well thankfully the owner was my dad. I was not embarrassed to talk shop in workout clothes, surrounded by bottles alongside burp cloths and diapers piled alongside file folders. I set up the baby in the baby swing and envisioned her cooing herself to sleep to the ho-hum of “work talk.” Dad and I got five minutes into our work conversation when Calla started squawking from the swing and we ended up wrapping up the discussion quickly as the shrieks escalated into that high-pitched newborn cry. Babies scuff in the face of work productivity!

Those first moments back into the work force as a new mom have stuck with me, and I empathize with moms as they adjust to reentering their careers after some time at home. Simple stuff like leaving the house looking preventable becomes Mount Everest some days with an infant! Those first couple months can be tough. That is why I was really encouraged (and hope this line of thinking spreads!) when I saw this article in The Washington Post, entitled–

“An unusual new policy for working mothers”


Jena McGregor writes-

“On Friday, global telecommunications company Vodafone Group said it would be setting a global minimum for its maternity leave policy, requiring that, by the end of 2015, all of its 30 operating companies around the globe offer at least 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. That in itself was an unusual move, yet the most interesting detail in the announcement may be the company’s new policy that kicks in once the leave is over.

“For the first six months after returning from maternity leave, new mothers at Vodafone will be able to work just 30 hours a week but continue to earn their full-time salaries. Unlike flexible work policies that many women must individually negotiate with their managers, or reduced-hours arrangements that likewise reduce their salary, the new benefit is aimed at helping women transition back into their jobs after giving birth without derailing their earnings or careers.

“….talent retention was one of the very goals Vodafone had in mind when it designed its new policy. On a global level, women comprise roughly 35 percent of Vodafone’s employees, but only 21 percent of its international senior leadership team. Moreover, 65 percent of the women in the past who opted to leave the company following maternity leave did so within the first year.

“Sharon Doherty, a director at Vodafone who was the architect of the new policies, went looking for ways to address those numbers. She noticed that in Italy, Portugal and Romania, where mandates are in place for companies to help women transition back into the workplace after maternity leave, the company’s retention rate was higher. “That led me to ask more questions and find out why,” she said. She decided to pitch the idea of a company-wide global policy.


{photo & words courtesy of Washington Post}

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