Schneider Electrics Rhonda Doyle discusses the career break stigma

Schneider Electric's Rhonda Doyle discusses the career break stigma

 May 25, 2022

Schneider Electric's Director of Operations, Services & Projects, Rhonda Doyle, spoke with Kieran Cuddihy on the Newstalk FM podcast about career breaks, the importance of inclusivity in company policies, and how Schneider Electric has supported its employees. 

Reducing the stigma of career breaks 

Discussing how to reduce the stigma of returning from a career break, Rhonda shared that she took 9 months and 12 months maternity leave for her two children respectively. "I think a lot of parents put pressure on themselves about when they should be back to work and wanting to show that their still engaged with the work and that the role and the job is still important to you," she explains. 

Embracing flexible working policies 

Responding to a question about a LinkedIn study that shows 60 per cent of women think there's still a stigma attached to taking maternity leave, Rhonda indicated she wasn't surprised. "It didn't surprise me, but what I think we're seeing is more and more companies are embracing flexible working policies, not just for women but for everybody. So, for example at Schneider Electric we have a people first approach and a global family lead policy, and that's for women and all parents or anybody that may need to take care of an elderly parents, etc. So we're seeing more and more of those policies starting to come online from companies over the last couple of years, and more and more men sharing the paternity or maternity leave as well."

A change in culture 

Asked whether she sees a change in culture, Rhonda explains: "There's definitely a shift. You're starting to see it as companies start publishing new policies. There's definitely a shift in the type of leave people can take, and it centers not just around paternity leave but the other types of leave. More and more I think employees look for roles with companies that offer that kind of flexibility."

Boosting education and awareness 

Highlighting ways to break the stigma, Rhonda suggests more education and awareness around those who have successfully returned from parental leave. Indeed, Rhonda has seen successful returners come back to Schneider Electric and share their stories, which has worked well. 

When looking at maternity or paternity leave, Rhonda says, "Whether it's a couple of weeks or a couple of months, in somebody's lifetime or their career, particularly with a company, it [maternity or paternity leave] is a short window of time. I think people really need to take that longer term perspective, come back and share those stories in the business."

This, she explains, will encourage others to do the same, and will often give others in the business an opportunity to step up, which supports the learning life cycle.

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