Where it all began...
While pregnant with her first child, Michelle was working full time as a Key Account Manager for a medium-sized enterprise in Melbourne, Australia. Prior to commencing her Maternity Leave, Michelle was tentatively offered a transition to a Pre-Sales Consulting role when she returned to work the following year.
When Michelle initiated the formal return to work process with her employer, she was informed that the new role she was expecting was no longer being created. She was then informed by her manager that her original role had been handed over to a work colleague and that she could only return to an alternative sales role. These changes had already been formalised within the organisation, with no consultation, during her Maternity Leave.
The transition back in to the workforce left Michelle feeling disappointed, undervalued and disadvantaged in comparison to her work colleagues, as the role she had been allocated was perceived to be a lesser position within the organisation. Personally, the transition to the new role appeared to be a demotion, and step backwards, rather than an opportunity for career advancement.
While disappointed with the outcomes, Michelle believes that the offer was made with the best intentions by her manager.
Over time, including acquisition by another larger company, new managers and colleagues began to make assumptions about Michelle's productivity and work record, assuming that she was unable to be relied upon due to her family commitments. This resulted in covert discrimination within the workplace; including exclusion from special projects, training courses and promotions with little-to-no valid reasons for the exclusion.
Michelle believes that with appropriate support in the form of coaching during her Maternity Leave Cycle, she would have been able to better influence her career path and have greater self-confidence in her abilities in the workforce. Coaching would have supported Michelle to speak up about the unconscious workplace bias, rather than tolerating the labels, comments and work exclusions.
The more Michelle have spoken and worked with mothers, the more she has realised that her experience is far from unique and that there is a great need for coaching and mentoring for individuals and organisations to support mothers through one of their greatest life transitions - becoming a working mother.
And so, Smooth Transitions Maternity and Return to Work Coaching was born.
To discuss how we can support your organisations to facilitate a smoother maternity and return to work transition for your employees, please contact us.