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International Women’s Day: My return to work after maternity leave

Category: testimonial, Gender Focus, Gender Equality, Flexible Working, gender diversity, Parental Leave, inspirational women, Capita, Business Services, Gender Balance, Staff Testimonial, Motherhood, gender bias, International Women's Day 2020

Gender Focus.

I recently sat down with my Capita colleagues to talk all things International Women’s Day, and to reflect on returning to work after having my baby. Here’s the interview:Why is International Women’s Day important to you?

Women today have opportunities that our mothers and grandmothers simply didn’t have. I had a conversation with my Grandma once where she explained how she wished she could have had the education and career options I’d had, and it brought home how narrow many women’s choices were not too long ago.

International Women’s Day helps us to focus and celebrate on how far we’ve come, but also reminds us that more is required to address inequalities of opportunity that remain.

What do you love about your job?

Leading the Business Assurance team for EMS our Electronic Monitoring contract, I cover risk management, health and safety, and information security. I love the variety of my role and being able to identify and then deliver improvements for our people and the client.

What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?

The best decision I ever made was when I took the leap to specialise in risk management when previously I’d worked in operational roles for railway and aviation companies. I didn’t really know how it was going to work out as risk management was completely new to me at the time, but thankfully I’ve loved it and have had brilliant career opportunities as a result.

You’ve recently returned from 9 months maternity leave. How was it?

It can be an unsettling time when you're away from the business. Before your maternity leave starts you worry about the hole that your absence could leave; have you handed everything over you needed to etc.? Then flip to a couple of months before you return to work and you start to worry that the business may be coping a little bit too well! Is there still a place for me, how has everything moved on? It can also be a little tough trying to remember the 'work' version of yourself and to then be that person again.

I was really reassured by the messages I was hearing from Capita while I was off around the importance of an inclusive and diverse environment. It's so important for our people to feel valued, and that they can be their truest self at work.

Flexible working has also really helped me with the transition back to work and allows me to be there for my family whilst delivering for the business. Thanks Capita and the team at EMS!

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

I was really ambitious when I first started out and I put a lot of pressure on myself. I think as you get older the ambition doesn’t disappear, but you learn to balance that with what really makes you happy and fulfilled in life. For me, at work it’s getting personal development and feeling challenged, and having a proper work life balance. I think it’s really important for mental health to have time to get outdoors and to exercise, and obviously since having my children to be there for them as you don’t get that time back.

How do you organise your time, inside and outside of work?

With two young children (9 months and 3 years old) I have become rather obsessed with planning and preparing ahead in order to juggle work and family again after maternity leave. My partner and I tend to get everything sorted the night before to make mornings less stressful. Since returning to work I have also started working flexibly which has made things so much easier.

In your view, what are the most positive impacts to business of gender balance?

In my field of risk management and in business, diversity is always an asset. It helps to provide a range of views and experiences and helps business to take better more informed decisions, as well as taking advantage of all the talent that is available.

I think it’s great that men also have more opportunities to be there for their families than they did before, and this is a huge help to women in work. My partner Chris took four months shared parental leave whilst I was off on maternity leave. It was brilliant to be able to spend that time together with our new baby. He has also requested and been given flexible working, which means that we have shared the pressure of work and childcare, rather than it all being on one parent as it might have been in the past. I think he’s being a great role model for our two boys.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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