Mentorship and Parental Leave

Welcoming a new child into your home comes with lots of excitement, joy, and nervousness. Whether you are a corporate worker, start-up founder, or a senior executive, family building is part of many people’s journeys. As we work towards designing workplaces that embrace family life and support staff members in these transitions, mentorship can play an important role in helping to navigate the expectations of parental leave, work/life balance, and being a parent in the workplace.  

Julie Wilson, Director of Equity Sales at BMO, discusses in this interview for MindFrame Connect the importance of the Mentors and Parents mentorship program focused on assisting their staff before, during, and after parental leave.

Does Mentorship Matter for New Parents?

Mentors can play an integral role in helping their mentees understand the challenges that come while learning this new balancing act. For many new parents, they may struggle with setting stronger boundaries at work, asking for the physical accommodations needed for pregnancy, or facing the stigma that can come when they need to focus on their family in lieu of their career (even momentarily). Parent mentors provide crucial guidance on the following:


Experienced parent-mentors can help newer parents understand what protections and benefits may be in place during this time. In established workplaces, they can help mentees navigate HR, leave policies, and reintegration into work. In start-up spaces, they are likely informed about the practical steps to support your venture while you build your family – including governmental policies or benefit programs.

Boundaries and Norms

As Wilson says, “You have to deliver in the home life”. While workplaces and venture firms are beginning to understand that their outcomes improve the more they support their employees and entrepreneurs’ holistic wellbeing (including their dedication and commitments to family), mentors can offer additional advice on how to approach new parenthood with bosses, investors, and partners.

Social Connection

Beyond what HR, venture partners, or government programs can offer, a mentor will know what the mentee is going through. Whether it’s someone who has taken paternity leave to welcome an adopted child, a woman in tech experiencing stigma from her need for more rest during pregnancy, or a start-up founder figuring out how to fund their leave when a new child arrives, a parent-mentor can offer a comfortable place for big, complex questions.

In summary, mentorship for new parents and ecosystems that support people to be successful in their work and home lives allow for greater outcomes on all levels, health, economic, and innovation. With programs like Mentors and Parents, and advocates like Wilson, we are taking imperative steps towards more inclusive and healthy workplaces.

Further Reading

Parental Leave Planning for Entrepreneurs. BC Business

How Does Parental Leave Work When You Run Your Own Business? CBC

Tackling Parental Leave Bias. In Diverse Company

A Working Parent Mentor Can Make All the Difference in Your Career. The Muse  

Paternity Leave: The Hidden Barriers Keeping Men at Work. BBC

How New Moms Can Deal With Maternity Leave Bias.

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