Debugging D&I – Amiqus’ Liz Prince looks at the challenges facing parents looking to return to work

As the school holidays end, and with some children starting nursery and primary classes for the first time, Amiqus’ Business Manager Liz Prince looks at the challenges facing parents looking to return to work – and offers some thoughts on what studios can do to encourage and support them.

We know from speaking to our clients and candidates that the juggle between parenthood and professional life has always been a tricky one. For most, parenting may be a shared responsibility, but when it comes to managing work and children, it is often mothers who face the question of whether or not to return to work – and then have to address the challenges of being a working parent. For many women, the decision to return to work isn’t just about professional aspirations; it’s about financial necessity, self-worth, and social integration. But the path is strewn with obstacles.

According to Pregnant Then Screwed, a UK organisation championing the rights of mothers in the workplace, “54% of mothers feel that they have been discriminated against whilst pregnant, on maternity leave or upon return.” This figure is a stark reminder that bias, whether overt or subtle, still exists. In addition, the lack of flexibility in many roles prevents women from striking a balance between work and family life. As noted by That Works For Me, an organisation promoting flexible working, “Without this flexibility, women often feel pushed out of their roles post-maternity, finding it difficult to balance childcare with a rigid 9-5 routine.”

Indeed, Amiqus’ own research post-covid lockdowns, revealed that the benefits of working remotely were significant for those with parenting responsibilities – 61 percent said it meant they could spend more time with the family and 26 per cent reported that it had eased their childcare challenges.

So, what can studios do to encourage more women back to work after having children?

Here are a few thoughts: Flexible Working Arrangements: Flexible hours, remote working options, and compressed weeks can make a tremendous difference. Studios can benefit from a broader talent pool when they allow employees to mould their schedules around family commitments.

Shared Parental Leave: While the UK has made strides with shared parental leave regulations, many couples are unaware or unsure of how it works. Studios can actively promote this, making it the norm and not the exception.

Supportive Back-to-Work Programmes: Organise returnship programmes tailored for those returning to work after an extended break. These can help women refresh their skills, rebuild confidence, and reintegrate into the workplace environment. There are already examples of this in the games industry, which should be applauded.

Mentorship and Support Groups: A mentor can be a lifeline for women re-entering the workplace. Connecting returning mothers with seasoned professionals can provide them with guidance, reassurance, and networking opportunities.

Childcare Support: Childcare in the UK is expensive, and for many, the cost can outweigh the benefits of returning to work. By offering subsidies or flexible hours that align with school schedules, studios can alleviate one of the significant barriers facing parents. Combat Discrimination and Bias: Training sessions that address unconscious biases can raise awareness and help to make workplaces more inclusive. Also, implementing strict anti-discrimination policies and procedures is crucial to ensuring a supportive environment.

The benefits of a diverse workforce are well-documented. Women bring unique perspectives, foster creativity, and can be instrumental in driving business growth. Pregnant Then Screwed aptly points out, “When we sideline the talent and potential of mothers, we are not just disadvantaging one group of people, we are reducing the potential of our nation.”

The challenges facing women in the UK who wish to return to work after having children are real, but they are not insurmountable. By adopting practices that support and value the contribution of mothers in the workplace, companies can not only enhance their operational capabilities but also foster a culture of inclusivity and respect. As summed up by That Works For Me: “Inclusion isn’t just about fairness; it’s about harnessing potential.”

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