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Our ‘all in’ approach to fostering a positive maternity culture

Read Time: 6 minutes

At Active Profile over the last twelve months, four members of our team excitingly began their maternity leave. With first-hand experience of the mounting stress and costs that women and their families face surrounding leave and transitioning back to work - we’ve worked hard to prioritise and foster a positive maternity culture. And with the awareness that our agency continues to move at pace, it was important to us that our new mums still felt like they were part of the team and could keep in touch, should they want to, while also being able to firmly maintain a boundary that allowed them to rest and fully embrace their time off.  

A recent report from Culture Shift found that one in four mothers was reluctant to share their pregnancy news with employers, as they were unsure of how their workplace would react. For small or scaling companies, hearing they will be losing a key member of the team for a significant period of time can be a daunting thought. However, this isn’t a stress employers should be adding to the plates of their employees. Through insights and shared experiences, we know that expectant parents will already have concerns about balancing their responsibility with the new role of raising a child, so this transition needs to be handled with understanding, open conversation, and the utmost care. 

Drawing on our very own Client Director, Amy’s, recent experience of returning to agency life as a new mum, we’ll be discussing how Active Profile have adapted our maternity support offering, as well as what the wider industry should be doing better in order to win the fight against maternity and adoption inequality. 

An open-door policy  

At AP, everyone is welcome in the office – babies included! Over the course of just a year, the agency has grown a lot -  with eight new members joining the team. As those on maternity leave begin to return to the office, they’ll be warmly welcomed by both new faces and new clients. But amid all this change and business, it’s still really important that we as employers, appreciate just how overwhelming this return can potentially be. Not only that, but we also realise that a longer spell of maternity leave can often be an isolating experience – so as a close team, we want our new mums to know that we’re always here to offer support.  

For exactly these reasons, we’ve made some important enhancements to our lovely office, including the addition of a baby bouncer and a changing table to our facilities, so that our new mums still feel like they could pop into the office at any time – whether that was for a cuppa or for an update at our quarterly team meeting.  


Shifting attitudes 

According to the same Culture Shift report, 15% of mothers surveyed said that they felt their colleagues or manager assumed their career was no longer important to them, and 10% felt they were treated unfavourably when they returned. Harmful management assumptions such as this can lead a business to reduce an employee’s workload, hours and pay, or even overlook the employee for a promotion. With this attitude, not only will the company suffer from a lack of diversity in higher management, but they ultimately risk losing valuable talent. Instead, as part of their return to work, business leads should be discussing the goals and ambitions of new parents and setting out development steps that will empower them to continue to achieve their career goals upon their return.  

 Keeping in touch  

Of course, new parents need the space to find their groove, but at the same time, employees don’t want to run the risk of feeling alienated by totally cutting contact. There’s definitely an element of balance here. Culture Shift’s report also revealed that more than a quarter of mothers didn’t stay in touch with their colleagues during maternity leave, and 2 in 5 were not looking forward to their return to work. It’s important that employers take the time to reach out to those on leave from time to time, so they still feel involved and up to date on what’s happening in the business. 

At Active Profile, we’re a social bunch who love to get out the office once a quarter for a group meal or fun team activity. As part of this, we always extend the invite to those on maternity leave so they can catch up with the group outside of pressures of an office environment. Plus, everyone is invited to our quarterly meetings, so those on mat leave can pop in (with babies too!) for the business update if they’d like to. This is something Amy took advantage of with our KIT days. 


As part of our maternity policy, we offer 10 of these KIT days. Not everyone will have the same support network in place to be able to commit to full working days before their full return to work, but they should always be on offer and encouraged for employees to use if they'd like to. Keeping the workload light, these are a great opportunity for your employees to get their teeth into smaller projects that they can work on at their own pace. 

Have an onboarding strategy in place  

Although those on maternity leave may be trying to keep up with the fast pace of their workplace in the run up to their return, it’s important to be aware of just how much may have changed. As employees phase back into the working world, it’s ideal to have a strategy in place to ensure they’re up to speed with any new processes, key contacts and new tech and don’t just throw them straight into a project.  

When Amy returned to Active Profile before Christmas, we’d hired new key team members, taken on new clients and had a whole new tech system in place to schedule and log time against projects. We gave her plenty of time to ease back in. Her first few days back resulted in a lot of intro meetings with new team members and plenty of briefing calls with project teams, but that gave her all the information she needed to get up to speed. 

Offer flexibility around returning to work 

Returning to work after having a child can be a psychological battle for new mums. Although still ambitious, many report of suffering from ‘mum guilt’ and often don’t have the flexibility to work to a business schedule like they used to. The cost of childcare alone can lead to one parent  (often mothers) having to go part time, as it’s too expensive for their child to go to nursery all week. So, it makes for pretty depressing reading for us at Active Profile to discover that 37% of mothers were not offered flexible working to fit around childcare in other companies. 


At Active Profile, we offer a flexible, remote-first approach to working. We believe all employees deserve the trust and freedom to fit other commitments around their working hours. However, we also understand that even with this level of flexibility in place, personal circumstances mean that employees may need to return to work part-time, and we will always support the individual to make sure we can implement a working pattern that will suit them and our clients. As Amy says: 


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