New findings show employers are in the dark ages when it comes to recruiting and employing mums
Predictably shocking stats were released by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) today about employers’ attitudes when recruiting and employing mums or women who might dare to consider pro creating.
1,106 ‘decision makers’ were surveyed and the findings leave no room for doubt: UK businesses are decades behind the law in how they recruit and treat employees before they have children, while pregnant and when they return to work.
Some of the saddest numbers to me were:
- Around a third believe women are ‘generally less interested’ in career progression once they have children.
- 40% claimed they’ve seen an employee ‘take advantage’ of their pregnancy.
- 44% feel that women who have more than one pregnancy are a burden on the workplace.
It was an honour for me to be invited to comment on the findings and contribute to the media release that the EHRC have sent out today on such an important topic that I feel so strongly about and have dedicated my life’s work to changing.
Here’s what I think
My comment is this: Reverting to archaic stereotypes of lazy, uncommitted mothers paints an inaccurate picture. But I also see why this happens and understand why employers’ attitudes remain this way.
99% of what I see is the opposite of mothers being less interested in their careers after kids, or taking advantage of their pregnancies. And the dozens of messages, comments and emails I’ve received today alone from women who’ve been made ‘redundant’ after announcing they were pregnant, been bullied and fired – sometimes by other women who are also mothers or had their position made untenable because of a lack of flexibility and compassion continue to show me that the opposite is true.
I see mothers who are – like me – more committed than ever to their work because it supports their dreams, provides opportunities and experiences for their families and enables them to be role models for their children.
I see people who make every working moment count and increase their productivity relentlessly so they can make the most of their family time.
I see parents return loyalty and commitment in spades to companies who take a more human, inclusive approach.
There are 11m working parents in the UK. That’s a third of our workforce. This isn’t a group of people we can afford as an economy to continue losing. Our workforce is haemorrhaging 54,000 women every year because of discrimination and disadvantage, and the short-sighted view that it’s perfectly ok to lose these brilliant, talented and capable professionals because they have a uterus.
Having also worked with a large number of businesses over the past two years, I also see and truly understand their perspective. I’ve spoken to many who have been burned by the tiny minority of people who do take the mick, or who have been crippled by the cost of recruiting multiple maternity replacements. This doesn’t justify flying in the face of the laws that are put in place to protect the rights of people how simply want to work to support their families.
The current system does not work. And that’s why I’m throwing my full support behind the EHRC’s work to change it.
So is there something we can all do?
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is encouraging every business to sign up to their brilliant Working Forward initiative, which offers FREE membership and access to tonnes of amazing resources, case studies and training to any UK company.
No matter what your position in the company you work for, you could take this to your HR team and pitch the idea for your firm – no matter its size or type – to sign up to take the Working Forward pledge for free to eradicate these archaic attitudes and behaviours.
You can also request the FREE cheat sheet I’ve put together for businesses that offers 40+ simple and low-cost strategies to improve support, inclusion, flexibility and communication for working parents. Download it here: https://www.takingcare.business/
These attitudes are so commonplace that the default assumption is that your marriage and family situation will automatically put you at a disadvantage as a candidate. We all know people who’ve taken their engagement or wedding rings off at interviews, right?
Far too much talent is being missed out on. 1.4m parents could be contributing to their households and our economy but aren’t. Whilst the uprising of parent-owned businesses and self-employment is fantastic, not everyone is in a position to or wants to work for themselves – nor should they be forced to feel as if that’s their only option.
Joining Working Forward, like brands such as John Lewis, Transport for London, Mitie, Royal Mail, Barclays and hundreds of others, is something every single one of us can encourage businesses to do today to help stop these headlines and make sure that by the time our kids head out into the world of work, things are radically different.
Head to https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/pregnancy-and-maternity-workplace/working-forward to find out more and get your workplace involved.