discrimination in the workplace

Tens of thousands of pregnant women face discrimination in the workplace with as many as 20% being forced to quit their jobs, a shocking new report reveals. Tony McDonough reports.

According to a study from charity, Pregnant then Screwed, 64% of mums-to-be have faced some sort of discrimination, including derogatory comments about their appearance.

One of the more horrifying findings was that a number of bosses had suggested women should consider terminating their pregnancy.

Pregnant then Screwed seeks to protect, support and promote the rights of pregnant women and mothers. It carried out a survey of 24,000 mothers and it has exposed a culture of bullying, harassment and toxicity towards women in the workplace.

Head of engagement and marketing at The Women’s Organisation, Germaine Fryer, said the report is just another stark reminder of the sort of gross and inherent inequality in the workplace that should have been consigned to history.

She explained: “The workplace, for women, is sadly still vague and all-too-often volatile.

“As women, we’re engineered to expect continual career setbacks as a result of our choices around having a family.

“The glass ceiling has become a phrase with which we’re all-too-familiar, and motherhood and care-giving have been repackaged as social barriers that will only prevent women from climbing the professional ladder into top jobs.

New research shows mothers getting raw deal in the workplace

“It truly saddens me that in a world where we have managed to circumnavigate challenges and disruptions to the workplace presented by, for example, the pandemic, we still have not managed to resolve or remove any of the long-standing barriers or obstacles for women and mothers.”

On June 24, the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act came into force in the UK, designed to give pregnant women or new parent’s greater protection from redundancy.

The bill was proposed by Dan Jarvis MP in response to a 2022 report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) that unveiled up to 54,000 women in the UK could be forced out of their jobs every year because of pregnancy discrimination.

Germaine added: “Protecting pregnant women and new mothers from redundancy is one thing, but as the report reveals, there’s a very real and more primitive problem here.

“We’re not just talking about women’s earning potential being affected, we’re talking about their mental and emotional wellbeing.

“I’d urge employers to make women’s emotional empowerment a priority, alongside protection of their professional rights.

“Let’s put their salaries and their self-esteem top of the agenda. This isn’t just the right thing to do but also the smart thing. Women have the potential to re-energise the UK economy. We need to unleash that power.

“Let’s promote women on both a human and professional level and create a positive, inclusive, gender-balanced workforce that can be an engine of growth.”

About The Women’s Organisation.

We are the largest developer and deliverer of training and support for women in the UK, delivering a broad range of services to women from diverse communities, inspiring them to become more economically active and personally fulfilled.

From boosting your confidence, recharging your resilience, or uncovering unconscious bias, we operate an extensive programme of events, courses and seminars, designed to empower women to take charge of their futures – as well as encourage employers to play their part in creating a fairer, more equitable future for women.

For more information or to register click here.

We currently have a project for any SME businesses who want to know how to better look after women in their workplace. Follow our LinkedIn page here to keep up to date.