Research from Talking Talent reveals despite Government intervention and the benefits of a diverse workforce and top team, many women continue to be penalised in the workplace for having children.
The research showed that prior to embarking on maternity leave, 96% of women were engaged in their role. But when they returned to work, 43% claimed their engagement at work decreased after having children.
A further 26% said their employer had a significant role to play in this change.
More than half (53%) agreed their confidence was negatively impacted when returning to the workplace, 43% said they felt nervous upon return and one in 7 (14%) felt guilty.
But this shouldn't be the case as many women are keen to return to work after having children. Although money was the top reason cited for return to work (45%), a quarter (24%) identified career as the main reason.
This comes despite the fact nearly half (48%) said they were concerned their employer no longer thought they were serious about their career after having a child. And nearly half of women (45%) said a greater understanding of what motherhood requires, by their employer, would go a long way to help them juggle work and childcare more effectively.
Commenting on the findings, Chris Parke, managing director of Talking Talent, said: "Returning to work after maternity leave is a delicate phase and businesses should be treating it with the care and consideration it so desperately requires. It's important that businesses face their demons and make sure there are no unconscious biases around maternity leave in the workplace. If there are, then businesses will continue to allow talented women to slip through their fingers - into their competitors' hands."