The US firm offers a programme called Mentor Moms which helps smooth the transition for new mothers when they return back to work after having a baby. Mentor Moms is designed to connect new mothers, or mothers to be, with another PwC mom who has already experienced juggling motherhood and her career at the firm. The goal is to provide newer mothers with a connection to someone who can provide guidance, insights or even be a sounding board as they make important decisions about their career.
After a successful year-long pilot, the programme was launched nationally in April 2009.
PwC director and mother of two Maris Friedman, who came up with the idea and has been instrumental in making it happen, says:
"Typically, it works this way: before a woman goes on maternity leave, she and her mentor will meet to talk about the programme and agree on how they want to communicate once she is out on leave—some prefer email, some would rather have their mentor call them, and some just want to be left alone!"
"The beauty of the programme is that it is unique for every person," continues Maris. "The first step is figuring out a plan, based on the date of the participant's return. The new mother is then contacted a week or two before that time and the mentor provides suggestions and support right away."
The programme provides a timeline for relationship milestones including "get to know each other over coffee (or juice!)", check in calls, and transition support. The mentors are also given a comprehensive guidebook created for them, which includes tips, strategies and wisdom collected from dozens of mothers at PwC. The guidebook includes the details of PwC's many work/life benefits and programmes, as mentors are asked to help their mentees sort through all of the options available to find what works best for them. Most importantly, the programme offers validation for new mothers. They realise it is going to be hard, but they also get reassured that everything will work out after the adjustment.
"Many of us are over-achievers," said Maris, "and it can be shocking to notice to what degree priorities shift once you have kids. You have to come to realise that it's okay if you don't work in the same exact manner as you did before, and that the firm still wants you. It comes down to working smarter with more flexibility."