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“We need to back women returning from maternity leave.”

“We need to back women returning from maternity leave.”

Business Chicks CEO Olivia Ruello explains why employers need to invest in women – more than ever.

BY Olivia Ruello, Business Chicks CEO, 3 min READ
 

If a woman is pregnant and goes for a job interview, should she tell her potential employer?

That’s the question a group of friends and I recently found ourselves asking after hearing the story of a woman who was 12 weeks’ pregnant with her third child and interviewing for her dream job.

Opinions around the table were divided. While some people felt it was unnecessary to even mention the pregnancy, others felt it was unethical not to. Either way, it was clear there was not a one-size-fits-all solution and that any decision was (sadly) a risky one.

So what should she do?

In the weeks since the conversation, I’ve been thinking a lot about the situation. And while everyone and every business will have their own thoughts, the one thing I know is that I’ve never worked with a woman who has returned from maternity leave and not given 150%. She may not work the same hours as she once did, but she makes the hours she does work matter.

As employers, we need to back these women as much as we can. We can’t be short-sighted. When you find someone whose values, skills and potential align with your organisation, you need to grab that person. Support them. Value them. Make it work.

A woman’s career is long and, in the scheme of things, three months, six months or 12 months out of the business should not be detrimental to a woman’s ability to progress in an organisation. That much I know. And I also know that when you invest in women, they give that back ten-fold. They’re the ones who will work hard and work smart and go that extra mile because they know you’ve got their back and they have yours.

We’re still a long way off living in a society where women don’t have to question whether or not they conceal a pregnancy in a job interview. Unconscious bias is still a massive issue. But hopefully – with every employer that thinks about the long-term rather than the short – we’ll come to a time these questions never have to come up in conversations over coffee again.

Olivia is the CEO of Business Chicks.

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