Almost half (49%) of mothers believe employers discriminate against working mums, according to research from specialist jobsite Workingmums.co.uk.
In the website’s annual survey, only one in eight (12%) respondents said that employers do not discriminate against working mothers.
Almost three-fifths (58%) of working mums said flexible working was the most important factor for their career progression, up from 52% last year. Nearly four in 10 (38%) of those on maternity leave would not return to their jobs if a request for flexible working was not granted. But despite this, 46% of those on maternity leave had not yet discussed flexible working with their manager.
Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk, said the results show how important it is employers consider how to make flexible working work for them.
“There are some jobs in which it is easier to offer certain forms of flexibility, but our work in highlighting best practice shows that there is room for a lot of creative thinking on how to make work culture more family-friendly,” she said. “Some have argued that it is too expensive for businesses to move to more agile working patterns, but the survey demonstrates the costs of not doing so in the loss of skilled staff."
This survey coincides with research from the Back2Businessship Initiative, which found that almost one in five women planning to have children (18%) have hidden this from their employer.
Commenting on her initiative’s own research, Liz Nottingham, one of the founders of Back2Businessship, said: “This research highlights once again that UK workplaces still need to work harder to meet the needs of women who want to have a child.
“It is time to abolish a working world where women are forced to change career plans in exchange for family, or hide their family plans for fear of harming their career prospects. Businesses must rethink the way they help females shape their careers.’’
The Back2Businessship initiative is a programme run by PR firm Golin, media agency Starcom Mediavest Group and recruiters F1. It aims to help mums who worked in media, communications, or marketing before their pregnancy get back into employment.