On 27th March 2018, Jenny Kelly, Client Relationship Manager for SThree brand Computer Futures, hosted a very successful ‘Returners to Work’ event as part of our #MindTheGap initiative, designed to bring companies together to share strategies on addressing the gender pay gap.
SThree colleagues shared their experiences of supporting returners through an interview conducted by Chief People Officer, Natasha Clarke, with recent returner Claire Hawkins and her manager Kalpesh Baxi.
Claire and Kalpesh agreed that a smooth return was achieved through planning in advance and clear communication. “Just think how out of the loop you feel after a two week holiday and amplify that by twelve months” - Kalpesh made it a priority to keep Claire up to date with changes at work and to keep her up to speed with company news whilst she was off on maternity leave.
Claire advises anyone planning a break from the workplace to make sure that they are clear on their value and strengths before their departure and to record that in a development plan as it is easy to forget and lose confidence when you step out for a time. Having that officially recorded makes it easier to pick up and get back up to speed on your return. She also recommended putting together a ‘return to work checklist’ before leaving to smooth the transition back.
Natasha explained that the SThree gender pay gap is primarily driven by having more men at senior level, partly because we are losing senior female employees after their maternity leave. Over the last couple of years, SThree has taken a number of initiatives to support new parents and has seen a considerable increase in the number of returning mums from 70% in 2015 to 87% in 2017 (against a national average of 77%).
Natasha shared with the audience some of the initiatives in place at SThree: flexible working arrangements, development initiatives such as the IdentiFy female leaders programme and the mentoring available to help expectant mums plan their time out and their return through the company maternity buddy scheme.
The SThree team also took the opportunity to remind the audience that returning mums come back with a whole host of additional skills acquired during their time out and a sense of perspective that is only attainable from a career break.