Baby AND BACK
CAN CANADIAN EMPLOYERS DO BETTER WHEN IT COMES
TO MATERNITY LEAVE CAREER TRANSITIONS?
While economists have long suggested that Canada
will experience serious labour shortages in the near
future, the bigger risk to Canadian employers and
the economy is a skills mismatch, whereby the skills
and talents of the labour pool do not meet labour market demands.
Although a single solution does not exist to address this
problem in its entirety, part of the answer resides in attracting and
using Canada’s existing labour market as effectively as possible,
and this includes working mothers.
Leveraging the skills and talents of working mothers is important
for a host of reasons. Women make up approximately 50
per cent of Canada’s labour force and account for 58 per cent of
post-secondary graduates, according to Statistics Canada. Of the
working women who do become mothers, 90 per cent will take a
maternity leave, with 44 weeks being the average length of leave.
The employment rate for working mothers has increased steadily
over the last three decades, and 73 per cent of mothers report
working in either a part-time or full-time capacity. When viewed as
a whole, mothers (including biological, adoptive and stepmothers)
account for 9.8 million members of Canada’s current 35.7-million
member population. Clearly, working mothers are a significant
component of the labour force. By recognizing and leveraging the
opportunities this group presents, employers can retain talent, enhance
productivity and decrease turnover.
But are organizations effectively managing, engaging and retaining
women before, during and after maternity leaves? Recent
research by Canada Career Counselling, funded by the Canadian
Education Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC), found
a startling disconnect between how well employers think they
are doing and what working mothers perceive. Specifically, over
By Avra Davidoff, M.C,. R. Psych and Dr. Laura Hambley, Ph.D., R. Psych
HRPATODAY.CA ❚ OCTOBER 2016 ❚ 39