The H&S Gap: Breastfeeding, The Dreaded Return to Work and Why Now is the Best Time for You to #DesignHerIn

I’m 36 weeks pregnant with my second child and shortly about to start my parental leave. Can you guess what my biggest worry is?

Disturbingly, my return to work. Specifically, returning to work while still breastfeeding.

Why, you ask?

As an external consultant that travels to client sites and offices on a regular basis the frequent lack of provision of a safe, private space to express breast milk (AKA Comfort Room) massively impacts my ability to do my job. 

At best it creates major inconvenience, anxiety and stress. At worst it’s a health risk that leads to intense pain and avoidable time off. 

And I’m not alone… The Speak Out Revolution #DesignHerIn campaign identified “Poor provision of basic facilities (such as toilets, safe spaces to express breastmilk)” as a top 10 barrier to women’s participation in the workforce. 

It’s undeniable that we did not design our workplaces with women in mind and it leads to a number of unfortunate outcomes for our businesses today:

  • Women delay returning to work (and minimise visits to the office) when a dedicated facility is not available.
  • Individuals feel isolated, undervalued and excluded owing to the lack of basic infrastructure to meet their bodily needs.
  • Individuals face additional anxiety and strain on their mental and physical health when a suitable facility is not provided.

So what’s my call to action?

If you’re a H&S professional committed to creating working environments that promote wellbeing and protect the safety of women here are 3 actions you can take today:

  • Ensure your organisation provides a dedicated, safe safe to express breastmilk for any employee. Not sure where to start? Take a look at the Speak Out Revolution FREE resource ‘Comfort Room Specification’[1] to understand what good looks like! Designed by breastfeeding employees for breastfeeding employees.
  • Follow the #WorkingWhilePregnant LinkedIn blog series to understand the real barriers women face in our workplaces and micro actions we can each take to drive healthier and safer workplaces for women[3]: Marie Hemingway | LinkedIn
  • Get proactive and #DesignHerIn by understanding where you can take further action to create safer, more inclusive environments for women. Join the Speak Out Revolution #DesignHerIn campaign today and baseline your organisation so you can get proactive about removing the top 10 barriers to women’s participation in your workplace today.[2][4]

We can’t create workplaces that work for everyone without your support! Feel free to reach out to me if I can help in any way!


[1] Comfort Room Specification: Comfort Room Specification.pd

[2] #DesignHerIn partner offering: #DesignHerIn partner offering.pdf

[3] #WorkingWhilePregnant blog series: Marie Hemingway | LinkedIn

[4] #DesignHerIn campaign page: #DesignHerIn | Speak Out Revolution

Marie Hemingway is the founder of Speak Out Revolution, a multi award winning, not-for-profit leveraging data driven insights to empower individuals and organisations to cultivate truly inclusive workplaces.

She leads a global team of volunteers harnessing the lived experiences of targets of workplace harassment & bullying to enable everyone to challenge the behaviours, processes and systems that fundamentally hold inclusion at risk.

Speak Out Revolution challenges individuals and organisations to be more inclusive through:

  • Educational talks which share our unique insights
  • Targeted workshops which mitigate the most prevalent challenges to inclusive working
  • Professional training
  • Business consulting to optimise organisational diversity and inclusion efforts

She is keen to apply her expertise in strategic investment decision making, digital transformation and organisational change to bring strategic, data driven insights to this societal problem that finds itself in our workplaces. Marie wants every organisation to benefit from the innovative services and solutions that comes with a diverse workforce, and she wants every employee to feel valued, included and belong.