According to a new survey published today, on International Women's Day, UK businesses are failing to support women properly when they first return to the workplace following maternity leave.

Current market research indicates that only 28 per cent of senior management roles in the UK are female and a staggering 71 per cent of businesses do not have a strategy or philosophy for developing women for leadership roles.

First100, the coaching consultancy who carried out the survey, say the first 100 days are a critical period of re-engagement. They argue that mothers who are supported during the early transition stage not only perform better and faster, but are less likely to leave.

Their suggested improvements include creating a tailored work-life balanced environment as well as setting up a support system to ensure the maternity returner has access to sufficient female peer support and advice.

Niamh O'Keeffe, founder and managing director of First100, says, "The first 100 days can have a major impact on the first 12 months of a returner's performance. If a maternity returner has a great first 100 days, everybody wins - the person, team, peers, clients and ultimately the whole organisation is more fit for purpose."