What HR can do:
Ask employees what they want and need
Sometimes HR can be wary of asking specific questions about intentions around family and other protected traits, however, this is also the best way to get information on what support your employees will need. Be consistent in asking all employees about their plans for the future, what support they might need from the company and help them understand the programs you already have in place.
Retain contact and involvement throughout maternity leave
When law firm McCarthy Tétrault wanted to reduce the impact of parental leave on how many women remained on the path to partnership, a key approach was to match them with a mentor to keep them up to date. The amount of information and contact was up to the female employee, ranging from frequent updates on cases and changes in the company to occasional calls and invitations to events. Not only does this help keep the mother in the loop, it ensures that when they return to work they have a champion who is invested in helping them succeed.
Encourage fathers to understand their rights to leave
There are a complex range of reasons why it is often women who take up parental leave, despite it being available to both parents, but ensuring that fathers are aware of their rights and know they will be supported in their decision to take leave increases support for both parents.
Read more: Women are falling off the career ladder: What can you do?