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Monday, May 20, 2024

many talented individuals exit the workforce for pregnancy or fertility treatment


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AFTER 10 years in the wealth management world, Alison Clarke decided to get off the corporate career ladder in 2016. Like many other women, she wanted to start a family and found the corporate lifestyle was not the right environment for her fertility journey. From a Client Service Officer at Merrill Lynch to Associate Director at Julius Baer, Ms. Clarke was no stranger to the fast-paced world of investments.

However, discussing fertility in the workplace wasn’t common and she was constantly feeling vulnerable and worried about what her colleagues thought. This stress, coupled with trying to keep up with the same productivity as her peers, left her feeling isolated. So she made the difficult decision to leave her job and pursue other options.

That’s when the idea for Fembition was born. The company provides analytics, networking, and peer guidance around employee pregnancy and fertility for both companies and individuals. This includes employee metrics that analyse the “flight risk” among staff wanting to get pregnant and why they may want to leave if they pursue that choice.

Ms. Clarke has since launched Fembition in January, with two pilot clients – a financial services company and a law firm. She runs the company from the Innovation Centre in Sligo, with two others working alongside her. The company has received €20,000 in self-investment and Enterprise Ireland funding so far.

Before founding Fembition, Ms. Clarke worked for a wellness company which helped shape her idea for the FemTech firm. It provides services to individual clients, such as how to manage stress levels while trying to get pregnant. Going forward, there are plans to partner with fertility clinics and other healthcare institutions.

According to a survey released by British charity Pregnant then Screwed, one in four women who disclose fertility issues are discriminated against. Ms. Clarke believes this is also an issue in Ireland.

“Women walk out of their careers because of fertility problems, and it doesn’t get captured by employers because it doesn’t come up in exit interviews,” said Ms. Clarke. “If the right supports are put in place from the outset, it would be such a talent waste and it should be looked at from a cultural perspective.”

Recently, Central Bank of Ireland figures show that 43% of board-level applications in the banking sector were women last year, up from 29% in 2021. Ms. Clarke is positive that Fembition can help bridge the gender gap and provide support for pregnant employees or those on fertility treatments.

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