When I was pregnant with my first child I was sacked by my employer the day after I informed them I was expecting. The experience left me in a terrible state mentally and physically as I struggled to regain my professional confidence whilst dealing with the stress of being unemployed and 4 months pregnant. The problem was that my employer was a small charity and they had never dealt with pregnancy before. Terrified that this would have a detrimental impact on their organisation they decided that ending my contract immediately would be the safest option.
Thankfully, things worked out really well for me professionally but the experience of being pushed out of my job because I was pregnant plagued me for many years. The statistics show that 54,000 women a year are pushed out of their jobs due to pregnancy or maternity and 77% of working mums encounter discrimination in the workplace. Those figures have almost doubled in the last 10 years so far from improving the situation is drastically deteriorating. Motherhood is the main cause of the gender pay gap and bad management of pregnancy, parental leave, flexible working requests and return to work tend to be the key reasons why parents, and in particular mothers, fall off the career ladder. Time and time again research shows that companies with gender equal boards and senior management teams are more productive and more profitable. Good management of pregnant women and new parents in the workplace is good for business, not just because it means you are likely to retain your female talent, but you will attract new talent, you will reduce your costs (pregnancy and maternity discrimination costs UK business £280 million per year) and you will have higher wellbeing amongst you team.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission in collaboration with Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, wants to make Greater Manchester the first city region to eliminate pregnancy, maternity and paternity discrimination. They have launched a project called Working Forward Greater Manchester which asks employers to pledge their commitment to making their workplaces the best they can be for working parents. Once the company has made this pledge they will be given access to support and advice from experts, as well as case studies from other businesses to help them successfully manage the complexities they may encounter with pregnancy, parental leave, return to work and flexible working. It’s a win win situation. businesses are not punished for bad practice, the programme is about supporting businesses to help them improve and it is totally and completely free. Once the pledge is signed that company’s name will join other local luminaries, including: Thoughtworks, Bruntwood, GVA, COOP and Pets at Home on the EHRC website as company that is committed to supporting parents in the workplace.
On the morning of the 22nd June we are holding a celebration and information event at Federation House with guest speakers including: TV presenter, Helen Skelton and Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, as well as business leaders and a panel of experts. It’s an opportunity to hear more about the programme and ask any questions you might have about how it works. We hope to see you there https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3410386