84% of British businesses claim to be supportive of pregnant women and those on maternity leave. Despite this, a contrasting 77% of mothers say that they have had a negative or discriminatory experience at work as a direct result of their pregnancy.
Commenting on the division, Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said:
“These statistics by the Equality and Human Rights Commission demonstrate a worrying gap between what employers think they are doing, and the actual experience reported by mothers.
“I was glad this week to attend the launch of the new national Working Forward campaign, led by British businesses, to drive real change for mothers in Norwich and across the country.”
The campaign by the Equality and Human Rights Commission brings together a broad coalition of nine leading companies, including Royal Mail, BT and Barclays, who have demonstrated exceptional practice in their policies for pregnant women and mothers. The aim is to empower these companies to share their experience with other employers, inspiring, encouraging, and equipping them to do the same.
With over fifteen million women active in the UK labour market at any given time, there is a clear business imperative for progressive policies. 73% of businesses have reported a boost to staff morale as a result of supporting mothers in the work place, with 76% saying that staff retention had also improved. This is significant as re-hiring constitutes a major cost to businesses, particularly in more senior roles. Businesses in the top quartile for gender diversity are also 15% more likely to achieve above average financial returns in their industry.
This campaign has special pertinence for Chloe, who begins maternity leave herself this week.
“As an expectant mother in Parliament, I know full well the challenges women can face working in an institution not geared up for the job of supporting pregnant women and new mothers. Across the UK there are many examples of companies already benefiting from gender diversity, solid maternity policies, and flexible working practices. It’s time for the rest to catch up.”