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Change is slow for women in transition

Emma Watson shone a light on the role of men and women in the fight for gender equality at the United Nations recently and in doing so, engaged another generation in the conversation on social media. In the 21st century, it is disappointing that gender inequality within organisations is still rife, but it is.

In our blog last week we asked: “Surely it’s time we saw some real traction from our New Zealand organisations to tackle this from the top down?”

For a small country like New Zealand, marginalising a sector of the working population is just plain stupid. If it is true that New Zealand faces a talent shortage (and I believe it is), we need to make the best use of the resources we have. Under-valuing and under-utilising the pool of women who have left the workforce after having children just does not make good business sense.

In 2007, concerned about the impact of the talent shortage on New Zealand organisations and eager to understand the reasons behind it, Altris undertook a research project in New Zealand .

The research asked a number of questions:

What are the concerns of women who are thinking about returning to the workforce after having children?

What support is available to them?

What lessons can be learned from other women who have transitioned successfully (or not)?

The results

The cost and availability of childcare and maintaining a healthy balance between work and family were the mot cited worries of the women who responded to our survey. It’s no surprise that 7 years later it seems that these are still the main concerns of women who are considering returning to the workforce after having children.

Four areas of focus for organisations committed to supporting women as they transition back to work were highlighted in the research.

  1. Proactive communication with women before they leave the organisation and during their absence.
  2. Working together to develop a structured plan to cover the period of exiting and re-entering the workplace.
  3. Active support and understanding from management and team members during the transition period
  4. Availability of information on parental leave, childcare options, flexible working options and policies.

It doesn’t seem too much to ask from our organisations but 7 years later, it seems that many are still struggling.


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