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National maternity leave program launched by Richmond mom

Jen Murtagh experienced firsthand all the problems for working mothers during her two maternity leaves
Richmond's Jen Murtagh (right) with her Maturn co-founder Sonja Baikogli Foley

What’s understood to be Canada’s first dedicated maternity leave program has launched, with a Richmond woman at the wheel.

Maturn – an eight-step plan engineered to close the power and salary gap realized by working mothers – was co-founded by mom-of-two Jen Murtagh so women don’t have to sacrifice their career goals when starting a family or adding to it.

More than 375,000 Canadian women take maternity leave every year and a recent survey, according to Maturn, showed less than one per cent reported feeling confident returning to work.

Adding insult to injury, Canada has the eighth highest gender pay gap with salaries for mothers on average 12 per cent lower compared to non-mothers.

And it was during her own two maternity leaves that Murtagh realized just how acute the problems were for working mothers, from preparing for maternity leave, childcare planning and postpartum, all of which Maturn now takes care of.

“Maternity leave was undoubtedly the most challenging year of my life,” said Murtagh, who has more than 20 years’ experience leading organizations in both corporate and non-profit, including the BC Women’s Health Foundation to Minerva BC and the CKNW Kids Fund.

“Although I felt I was somewhat prepared in becoming a mother, I greatly underestimated the impact on my identity, career and confidence.

“My driving force in co-creating Maturn is to provide the support greatly needed for the transition to and from maternity leave without women sacrificing their career goals and wellbeing.”

Maturn was built, added Murtagh, not just to support mothers in a “deep and meaningful way during the most pivotal year of their life,” but also to help Canadian organizations, such as SAP Canada – a founding partner in Maturn which is now offering the program to employees entering maternity leave.

Murtagh, who started writing the Maturn program on paper while on a retreat in Ucluelet, said the program will help the team at SAP “foster inclusive and equitable organizational cultures and advocate for stronger systems and support for working women across Canada.”

She co-founded Maturn with former vice-chair of YWCA Canada, UN delegate and municipal government relations director Sonja Baikogli Foley.

"I have experienced two maternity leaves at SAP while navigating my career,” said Megan Smith, vice president of human resources at SAP Canada.

“This program is the right thing to do, not just for mothers, but also for SAP’s overall success as a company. We win as an organization when we support mothers experiencing this major life change during their career.”

Maturn’s eight-step program, costing $3,000, offers self-directed, online modules, live monthly coaching sessions, monthly guest experts and an online community group.

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