Almost one in five (18%) women planning to have children have hidden this from their employers, according to research from the Back2Businessship initiative.
The survey of more than 1,000 women also found that 58% of non-retired women planning to have children expect to alter their career to accommodate starting a family.
The main reason cited was the requirement for more flexible working conditions (74%). Other reasons for changing included needing to work fewer hours (58%) and preferring a shorter commute (31%).
Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, told HR magazine this reflects the simple reality that mothers typically can’t dedicate as much time to their careers as a result of childcare responsibilities. “All this adds up to the fact that reward is not enough,” she said. “When you work and have a child something has to give.”
The survey also uncovered mothers experiencing ‘baby shame’ in the workplace. More than a quarter (26%) of working mothers said they feel self-conscious when leaving early or working from home because of childcare arrangements.
“This is not just a problem for mothers,” commented Jackson. “Our surveys have found that young fathers feel the same way; they don’t have the work/life balance they want, and they hide their childcare commitments from their employer.”
Liz Nottingham, one of the founders of Back2Businessship, said that the research shows better support for working mothers is required. “This research highlights once again that UK workplaces still have to work harder to meet the needs of women who want to have a child,” she said.
“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.