On 3rd August, WiFA hosted an informative and inspiring seminar, with guest speakers from Urban Hatch, Sophie Jacobs and Bronwen Grigg. Urban Hatch, a women-led organization which provides maternity/paternity and family health and wellness support, shared important tips and strategies for HR leaders, team leaders, and D&I managers.

The speakers shared practical tools and guidance on how to support expectant and new parents with empathy, in order to ensure a positive workplace environment, retention of talent, and authenticity at work. They emphasized that the conversations between expectant parents and managers must start before delivery, not after and participation by the manager is necessary. The discussion noted that if this stage is handled improperly, the expectant parents may experience a loss of confidence as well as high levels of stress and anxiety, resulting in a loss of talent as these productive workers may leave the institution. The speakers noted that the trend in the past two years appears to be that more male managers are conscious of their workers who are expecting and are interested in accessing expert resources and participating in group sessions on how to handle the situation better, including via virtual education and peer support sessions.

To provide more support, Urban Hatch is currently developing a digital tool that delivers unique pieces of information to the manager, including expected due dates, expected mid-semester scans, etc. This information will help managers understand what their staff is experiencing and thus, assist in initiating an open dialogue. Sophie and Brownen paused frequently to listen to anecdotes from the audience, thereby providing a very personal approach.

In sum, an open dialogue, ongoing, open, empathetic conversations and integrated support is needed for expectant parents to thrive in the workplace. Lack of communication or silence can be deafening – it can create anxiety and undue stress. And that is when people lose their loyalty to the organisation. On the other end of the spectrum, secure and confident employees perform better and will be more loyal, affecting the bottom line. 

Urban Hatch has offered WiFA members a free consultation session –please contact Sophie or Bownen for details at urban-hatch.com.

Thanks to WiFA Education Committee co-chair Marie Swarbreck and BlackRock for providing us with a great session that is both timely and interesting.