MotherBoard is a Charter, community and event series that has been created to drive positive change throughout the UK’s tech and data sectors, with an emphasis on ensuring working mothers are included in the conversation. Creating environments that support the inclusion of working mothers offers a significant solution to the shortage of talent, so MotherBoard is here to educate, challenge, and catalyse that shift.

Just one of ADLIB’s impact-focussed meetups, MotherBoard emphasises that it’s a community open to everyone, from mothers working in tech to organisations that are up-skilling returners back into work, as well as employers that are consciously looking to create inclusive programmes to attract mothers into their tech teams. They actively encourage women, men and non-binary folk to get involved.

“Not only are we losing talent by women leaving the industry, but we are trying to get more women into an industry that is not set up currently for long-term careers for a lot of women”

For a deeper dive, we caught up with Sophie Creese, a Tech Recruitment Manager at ADLIB, who founded MotherBoard in early 2021, which is now sponsored by Not On The High Street. Almost two years on, and “the MotherBoard meetup series offers a safe place to discuss taboo topics around motherhood and a career in tech. Our meetup now has over 725 members and we host online and in-person meetups in London and Bristol,” explains Sophie.

Throughout this time, the group has tackled sensitive, off-limit topics such as discrimination, toxic work culture, miscarriage, stillbirth, redundancy in pregnancy, NDAs, and the rate of women leaving the tech industry at childbearing age. Alongside this, MotherBoard is known for offering practical meetups that champions discussions around advancing your career, such as advice on how to find a mentor or how to choose a software engineering course.

Having a career and having children

We often speak about how we can make the tech sector a more inclusive place, but there’s a long way to go before we see this implemented across the board. In the meantime, keeping the conversation alive, dynamic and reactive is integral to pushing change forward. Ensuring the workplace is set up for mothers is just one factor we need to keep at the top of the agenda, as Sophie explains: “As a Tech Recruitment Manager, I see the reality of the problems within the industry.

“I am a mother of two myself and hearing the stories within tech of women being pushed out of the industry when they have children has a real impact on me. This is the same industry that is actively trying to hire more women into their tech teams, however, these teams are not set up to allow women to have a career and have children. That’s what we are trying to change. Not only are we losing talent by women leaving the industry, but we are trying to get more women into an industry that is not set up currently for long-term careers for a lot of women.”

Three women from different ethnicities sat at a light wooden table smiling and looking at one another

And there was clearly always a demand for a space to work on these issues. Sophie tells us the reaction has been both inspirational and heartwarming: “[We’ve] met many great people who want to see change within the industry. Our meetup is not just for mums, it’s for everyone who wants to create positive change.”

However, it’s not always plain sailing to raise awareness of these issues: “We’ve also had a few eye-opening moments where people have said they don’t believe this is something that needs to be addressed and that the industry is fine as it is!” This plainly demonstrates that we need to continue educating ourselves and sharing unique perspectives to illustrate what the situation actually looks like for some working mums.

A fairer workplace for all 

Since its inception, MotherBoard has simultaneously created solidarity by bringing working mums together and ignited conversations that otherwise may have been left unsaid. Although usually MotherBoard exists as a digital space, the meetup was recently hosted in-person at Not On The High Street’s HQ in London. “Being able to connect with our community in-person takes the conversation to the next level. Our panel were able to feed off each other and it sparked a fiercer debate on the subjects we were tackling that wouldn’t have happened online. We will continue to host online events throughout the year, but we will also continue to host in-person events in London and Bristol as well.”

Originally, MotherBoard was going to solely be a meetup series, but the group found itself being approached by companies that wanted to use the MotherBoard community to advertise roles to its members to try and encourage more women to apply for their jobs. Sophie explains that whilst all of this sounded fantastic and the team was pleased to know companies proactively wanted women in their roles, “we had no real way to know if these businesses were set up to support mums.

“So yes, please do offer fantastic maternity AND paternity leave pay but also look at other aspects of policy that will make an impact too”

“Our solution was creating the MotherBoard Charter, which allows companies to take accountability for their own journey to better their internal work culture for women. These companies are able to utilise the MotherBoard brand in their hiring advertising and have the stamp of approval that they are genuinely improving working conditions for mums working in tech. We now have 20 charter signatories, and it is growing monthly.”

Throughout her day job and journey as MotherBoard founder, Sophie has seen firsthand the promising progress the tech industry is making toward becoming more inclusive. Her takeaway from these experiences is that: “Businesses can always do better, and we have to constantly evolve and learn, there are no quick fixes when it comes to inclusivity.

“Many business leaders think that introducing a decent maternity leave policy is the solution, but the issue goes much deeper than fiscal policy. So yes, please do offer fantastic maternity AND paternity leave pay but also look at other aspects of policy that will make an impact too. For example, businesses can make flexible working available for everyone, normalise dads doing the school run, offer better return to work for those coming back from maternity and paternity leave, upskill mums with gaps on their CV.”

To learn more about shaping your workplace in this positive way, join the MotherBoard group here where you can keep an eye out for information on the next event.