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executive level employees. Constraints on budgets can mean this specialist support may not be available to mid- and early-senior level employees. Te challenge is that these level of roles are most likely to be where the volume of maternity occurs, which in turn often coincides with a shift in the gender balance at a crucial point in the talent pipeline.

Internal mentoring programmes for new parents Internal, peer-to-peer mentoring programmes are a cost effective and sustainable way of supporting return- ing talent on an ‘open to all’ basis. Te expertise is in your workplace. Parental mentoring programmes connect parents-to-be with fellow working parents who’ve made the journey back to work themselves and who understand the unique culture and context of the organisation from within. With appropriate preparation, these offline relationships can offer timely one-to-one support and a safe conversation space. Tey are also an opportunity to pay it forward – as someone is helped in turn; they help future generations of talent.

Workshops for returners Small group workshops are a useful way to bring together employees pre-leave, on leave and post-return for practical tools and tips, as well as to share learning and support. Tey are also invaluable as an on- going source of commentary on the policies and process end to end.

Informal networks and forums Tese can be helpful sources of support, either online or alternatively as informal social groups that get together for individuals on leave or who have already returned to work. For someone struggling to feel back, it can be hugely helpful to connect with others to exchange ideas and discover the issues they are grappling with are probably not in isolation.

Accessible and confidential sources of guidance Where possible, people welcome a personal contact for advice and questions relating to pay, benefits health and wellbeing.

Online resources Employees need a defined space for accessing policies, company documents, FAQs, maternity/ paternity/adoption timelines. Ideally these resources should be accessible both within and external to the organisation for employees on leave.

Invest in returning talent

Te opportunity to make a difference to the long-term health of your talent pipeline is in front of you right now, with the individual who has just

Bridge the gap between policy and experience by extending your investment in talent through this critical time

announced her pregnancy, the new father requesting shared parental leave or the colleague on the point of returning to work. Bridge the gap between policy and experience by extending your investment in talent through this critical time, supporting employees personally and profession- ally as they make the transition to working parenthood. Central to this is enabling individuals to embrace their new identity, to set them up for a smooth return to work and, when ready, to get their career on track. For organisations that strive to make a difference, the rewards will be evident in the short term, with more engaged and effective employees, and longer term, with a stronger, more balanced pipeline which delivers talent for the future success of the business.

Nicki Seignot is the lead consultant and founder of The Parent Mentor and co-author, with David Clutter- buck, of Mentoring New Parents

at Work (Routledge, 2016). Visit

References 1. 2.

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