Pregnancy and maternity discrimination is a known fault of our employment system, however new reports are revealing just how extensive the impact is on new mothers and the results are ghastly. According to a new research by Netmums, 45% of new mothers have their workplace responsibilities stripped or side-lined, and 39% report earning less on their return to work from maternity leave.
The poll follows reports earlier this year that employers are still practicing unethical and unlawful behaviour around pregnancy and maternity rights, according to research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Finding that senior decision makers were ‘living in the dark ages’ when recruiting pregnant women and new mothers, the EHRC has initiated a new campaign, Working Forward, which aims to eradicate ‘antiquated’ views about pregnancy and maternity.
The new findings from the Netmums poll only further the need for action. According to their survey, 32% of new mothers feel they missed out on a promotion they deserved, and of those whose annual earnings were reduced on returning to work, 30% estimate losses in excess of £10,000. However, the financial losses were not the only disturbing result.
The women surveyed also claimed to have experienced discrimination in response to their new mother status. While 43% state they were made to feel guilty about their impending or new motherhood, 34% were also made to feel uncomfortable and a further third disrespected. Overall, 76% claim their manager could have done more to protect them from such negative experiences in the workplace.
Anna-Marie O’Leary, Editor in Chief of Netmums, told Grazia:
‘From reports on unfair dismissal, and struggles to secure flexible working rights, to women being made to feel that their opinions no longer mattered, our polling paints a truly frightening picture of pregnancy and maternity related discrimination in today’s modern age.
‘The fact that 76% of new mothers who experienced discrimination have stated that their employer could have done more to prevent it, highlights the need for action.’
According to the mums surveyed, the action should revolve around flexible working strategies. Over a third said they want a ‘fair, flexible working strategy’, while 20% want an employer who demonstrated why and how the organization is committed to family friendly policies. These ranked most highly in importance to new mums, with only 15% stating that they wanted a larger salary.
In response to the findings, the EHRC has called for more businesses to join the Working Forward campaign. Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the EHRC, told Grazia:
‘Many employers are struggling to break down barriers and reduce discrimination. Our Working Forward campaign, which works with employers to make their workplaces the best they can be for pregnant women and new parents, strives to break down these barriers and stamp out this type of discrimination once and for all.
Adamant the initiative will make ensure new mothers are treated fairly at work, Hilsenrath continued:
‘This is how we are helping businesses to deliver on equality in the workplace. Mothers aren’t asking for anything that is outside the realms of possibility, or the law. Encouraging flexible working and supportive leadership really will make a difference.’
If you would like to know more about the campaign, click here.