The return to work

March 31st, 2021

This April, I am returning to work for the second time in my career. The first was six and half years ago following illness, and this time I’ll be coming back from maternity leave – a far happier reason!

It’s been a strange maternity leave, as not only did it happen during a pandemic, but my son was born with a congenital heart defect that was corrected when he was two weeks’ old. It’s been a stressful and worrying time, and often I’ve found myself in a bubble of anxiety, oblivious to what else was going in in the rest of the world.

Recently, I’ve been able to lift my head above the parapet to see that in the past nine months everything has changed, and yet nothing has changed. The way we live our lives have fundamentally shifted and as we’ve transitioned into this new way of living and working, we’ve brought to the surface uncomfortable truths in our society. No longer can we ignore the inequalities that have been staring us in the face. The problems remain the same, but the voices are getting louder. Whether they will be heard in the long-term remains to be seen.

I’ve watched as communicators have acknowledged inequalities in our own profession, admitted mistakes and committed to making change. At times, it felt like I had stepped out of internal comms at the wrong time, and I was missing being part of an important conversation. And although I’ve been acutely aware that my voice has been missing, I’ve come to realise that what I have had is an opportunity to listen.

I’ve since spent time thinking about how, as an internal communication consultant, I can contribute to making internal comms, and the organisations I support, more inclusive. I have therefore decided to set out several commitments I will make:

  • I will make a monthly donation to the Taylor Bennett Foundation (a charity that exists to encourage Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic graduates to pursue a career in PR).
  • When I am asked to speak at events, I will ask the organisers to share the speaker list to ensure there is diversity. (Advita Patel recently created an unrepresented speaker list which is worth looking at if you’re planning an event.)
  • I will attend events and workshops to educate myself further on how to be an ally and support diversity within workplaces.
  • I will continue to discuss how to make our writing more inclusive as part of the Advanced Writing Workshop I run in collaboration with the Institute of Internal Communication.

I appreciate these are small things and once I have found the right balance between work and motherhood (I will be working two days a week to begin with) I will find other ways that I can support the good work that is already taking place.

One of those is the incredible initiative, A Leader Like Me, set up by Advita Patel and Priya Bates. If you weren’t already aware of it, I strongly recommend taking a look.

I’m so excited to be joining you all again and look forward to catching up with many of you (virtually of course) very soon!



Categories: InclusionInternal communication

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“Helen’s passion for her profession shines through very clearly and she manages to combine her deep knowledge of internal communications with a mix of pragmatism and fresh thinking. She is a delight to work with and has a high level of integrity.”

Richard Fitzmaurice, TMF Group