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The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) – the UK’s professional body for public relations practitioners – is launching Managing Your Maternity Leave package aimed at supporting women in the industry who plan to return to work after maternity leave.
The package, which will be available from 1 September 2014, includes initiatives to help women keep up with their professional accreditation and support, guides to help manage maternity leave and return to work, advice and support, a legal and business helpline and information on career development opportunities.
For instance, the package will allow women up to 12 months payment holiday from CIPR membership to ease the financial burden of Statutory Maternity Pay and up to 12 months discretionary CPD credits – to maintain levels of accreditation. There will also be quarterly KIT (Keeping in touch) emails, providing bite-size access to the latest on-demand learning and development opportunities, a private LinkedIn group and access to a private online community – to promote knowledge sharing, advice and peer support. The 10 guides to help support women going on maternity leave will cover everything from how to ensure a smooth handover to and from a career break and how to pitch for flexible working to how to renegotiate a role and how to draw boundaries between work and home. They also include a guide on best practice for line managers managing women on maternity leave.
The CIPR says the package is the first of a number of initiatives to be delivered in 2014, which aim to address gender balance and equal pay in public relations.
The move has been supported by Ruby McGregor-Smith, CBE, Chair of the Women’s Business Council and Chief Executive of Mitie Group plc, the FTSE 250 strategic outsourcing company.
Ruby said: “As a leading employer of women in the UK, we at Mitie understand the importance of attracting and retaining the best talent to ensure the long-term success of our business. Supporting women through maternity and their return to work is such a value investment and it’s great that the CIPR and public relations industry is taking an active lead in this area.”
Sarah Hall FCIPR, CIPR Board member and Owner of Sarah Hall Consulting, who has led the initiative during 2014, said: “As the professional body for an industry that is over two-thirds female, we should be an exemplar to other sectors and this is just the start of the CIPR taking a more active role in gender equality, diversity and professional ethics.
“At present, the public relations industry loses talented women at an inexcusable rate. There is a multitude of reasons for this, from a lack of support as female practitioners move into leadership positions, right through to engrained attitudes and processes that are at odds with the needs of both organisations and individuals today.
“A key area that requires attention is the maternity leave process, which can be very challenging for all concerned. Knowing your rights as an employer and employee is vital for organisations and their best talent to be able to navigate this time successfully. This is why we have made this a priority and developed a number of guides and support mechanisms that I certainly wish I’d had access to when thinking about having a family and then when my children were born.
“However this is only a small part of the work that is ongoing. We still have a huge nut to crack. The issue of the gender pay gap, which currently stands at around £12,000, is not going away. It is absolutely unacceptable that men are, on average, earning this much more than women even when performing exactly the same roles. As such, this is where our focus will be until we have done everything we can to help our female members achieve parity and we will be looking to our members and the wider industry to help us achieve this goal.”