Baby AND BACK CAN CANADIAN EMPLOYERS DO BETTER WHEN IT COMES TO MATERNITY LEAVE CAREER TRANSITIONS?
hile 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 HRPATODAY.CA ❚ OCTOBER 2016 ❚ 39
By Avra Davidoff, M.C,. R. Psych and Dr. Laura Hambley, Ph.D., R. Psych