One in five HR professionals say that pregnancy or motherhood affects female employees’ chances of promotion

Recent research has revealed that one in five (22 per cent) of HR professionals consider that a woman being pregnant, or a mother, affects her promotion chances.

The YouGov survey of over 800 UK HR professionals involved in employment decisions also found that more than one in 10 (12 per cent) said women were taken less seriously in their organisation when they returned from maternity leave.

Dr Carole Easton, Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust – the charity responsible for commissioning the survey – said: “The level of discrimination that Young Women’s Trust has uncovered against young mothers who are in work or looking for jobs is shocking. It is in everyone’s interest to help young mothers who want to work.”

The research also found a fifth (21 per cent) of those polled agreed pregnancy within the first year of employment was frowned upon in the workplace.

Carol-Anne Baker, a consultant family solicitor at Bridge Law Solicitors, said she was unsurprised by the findings and, in her experience, women who have or want a family were still seen as “inferior career people”.

“Employers just see the cost issue of paying maternity pay and don’t see beyond that,” she said. “It seems to me it is about self-interest rather than understanding and respect, and employers need to be less short-sighted.”

Jessica Chivers, CEO of The Talent Keeper Specialists and author of Mothers Work!, agreed employers should view returners as an asset.

“Women who experience positive maternity transitions are far more likely to stay with, and be a brand ambassador for, their organisations,” she said. “Line managers need to see beyond any short-term challenges associated with a colleague taking a period of extended leave and recognise the long-term value of an engaged and motivated employee.”

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that 10 big companies will publish their parental leave and pay policies online following calls from Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson for greater transparency.

Chloe Chambraud, gender equality director at Business in the Community, said: “Publishing parental leave and pay policies can be a daunting step for employers, but it is vital in order to position themselves as an employer of choice.

“Businesses have a key role to play in ensuring all their employees – male and female – are informed about the opportunities available to them and receive the support they need to successfully balance their careers with caring responsibilities.”

Click here to return to PBS HR Newsletter or click the link if you want to learn about out HR for small business service.

People Based HR