Frontline

Aberdeen program looks to help expectant mothers

Aberdeen Asset Management PLC has launched a program to take mums-to-be in the workforce by the hand.

In September, the fund manager began a coaching program for employees who are new mothers or expectant mothers — currently about 30 — as “they're going through a considerable change in their lives,” said Allison Hopcraft, human resources business partner at Aberdeen AM, London.

The tailored program is outsourced to Parenting for Professionals, which runs three workshops for women — one each before, during and after they take maternity leave. While the main focus is to address specific issues — both on professional and personal levels — faced by the women, the sessions also have become a networking tool for them.

“In the last session, we had colleagues (who have previously gone on maternity leave) talk about their experiences,” Ms. Hopcraft said. “Our priority at the moment is managing the maternity (coaching) program, but there is scope to do something for fathers on paternity leave as well.”

In the U.K., a new law allows men to take up to six months off for paternity leave, Ms. Hopcraft noted. Women can take up to a year off for maternity leave.

In addition to the small-group workshops, the firm is also looking at providing one-to-one coaching. At the same time, it is considering organizing workshops across Europe for managers, in order to assist them in dealing with issues such as flexible work hours, that arise when employees are expecting or are new parents.

“We're a growing company,” Ms. Hopcraft added. “While our return-to-work rate (for employees on maternity leave) is pretty healthy, we don't want to get complacent. We wanted to find new ways to provide as much support as possible.”

This article originally appeared in the April 15, 2013 print issue as, "Aberdeen program looks to help expectant mothers".