Employee-Led Club for New Mums brings benefits to Members and their Organisation
Updated: Aug 31, 2019
Our focus this year in AXIS is to showcase the positive steps that organisations and individuals can take to help address gender balance within their organisations. Quite often those steps cost very little but can have quite a dramatic positive effect. I wanted to share one of my own initiatives with you in the hope that this will encourage others to take steps, whether big or small, which will help lead us towards a more gender balanced industry.
In September 2017 I was in the middle of my second maternity leave and I realised that there was a bit of a baby boom happening in my office. A number of my colleagues fell pregnant within a few weeks/months of each other and amidst the typical jokes of there being something in the water I recognised that there might also be an opportunity to support my fellow new working mums. Whilst becoming a parent can unquestionably be the most wonderful experience of your life it can also (and often at the same time) be a very challenging, uncertain and isolating time. My firm has a lot of initiatives for new parents at a national/international level but sometimes you need something more immediate and local.
I therefore suggested we set up a New Mums’ Club in my office which, following input from my more tech savvy colleagues, quickly became a simple WhatsApp group. I imagined the group would help us to keep in touch with our working lives a little better and reduce the disconnect during maternity leave, but it very quickly took on a life of its own and came to mean quite a bit more.
It became “a non-judging, friendly forum to ask for advice” where we can ask “more personal questions” than would be possible in more formal forums. Our group has supported each other day and night (into the wee small hours) with everything from rashes, lack of sleep and breastfeeding struggles to flexible working applications and time recording. We’ve also had some great playdates!
Erica Kinmond with her family
My colleagues tell me it has been and still is “hugely helpful” for them and that “having a group of mums that I know relatively well that are all going through the same thing at the same time was super helpful.”. They “found it useful to have people that are going through the same things as me with regards to returning to work, dealing with mat leave/mat pay…etc – this is not the type of thing that I really discuss with my other Mummy friends.”
Our group is a mix of “experienced” and first-time mums at different stages in their journeys, and is also a mix of lawyers at different stages in their careers and non-lawyers. There is plenty of diversity of thought and experience in the group who were not all well known to each other at the start but who have all been appreciative of each other’s input and perspective. “Even as an “experienced” (lol) mum of three I appreciated the advice given, as there were some things I’d never come across before, every baby is different, and it was nice to share mat leave with others in the office.”
I am sure there will be voices asking why I set up a New Mums’ Club and not a New Parents’ Club. As it happens, none of the men in our office at the time were expectant dads. However, knowing what I do now, I would still have set up a mums-only group. Our group was able to provide support on the issues only women can experience during pregnancy, childbirth and beyond, and these discussions would simply not have happened in a mixed group. New parent and new dad groups are a wonderful idea but I believe they should be in addition to, and not instead of, a new mums group.
The New Mums’ Club was ridiculously simple to set up and cost nothing but it has given and continues to give us enormous value. I hope that you will also share your positive initiatives in the hope that together we can chip away at the barriers and improve the gender balance of our industry.