According to recent research, one in eight employers have admitted that they would be reluctant to hire a woman who they thought might take time off to have children.
The survey by the Young Women’s Trust found that 12 per cent of respondents were unsure about hiring a woman, despite the fact that it is clearly illegal to make recruitment decisions on this basis.
14% of male HR decision-makers held that view, as did 10% of the females. Although this is a significant finding, it represents some progress in as much as 16 per cent of male HR decision-makers expressed their reluctance to hire women in 2018; while in 2017 the figure was even higher at 18 per cent.
Overall, one in seven HR decision-makers (14 per cent) said that their organisation took account of whether a woman was pregnant or already had children during decisions about career progression and promotion.
Despite being illegal, the current figures again represent progress – 22 per cent said the same thing in 2018; while the figure in 2017 was 25 per cent.
These results reinforce the findings of research carried out in 2018 by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which found widespread maternity and pregnancy discrimination against women.
In all, 802 HR professionals took part in the survey which was carried out online by YouGov for the Young Women’s Trust, a charity that supports women aged between 18 to 30 who are trapped by low pay or no pay. The fieldwork was carried out between 4 and 23 February 2019.
Iain Birrell, of Thompsons Solicitors, commented: "This is depressing; as much for the fact that it is unsurprising as it is that the problem remains so significant. It is nearly half a century since the Equal Pay Act 1970 and 44 years since the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, and so clearly laws are not enough. The latest issue of the Harvard Business Review reports a US backlash against the #MeToo movement with a survey showing that 27% of men avoid one-on-one meetings with female co-workers; 21% saying they would be reluctant to hire women for a job that would require close interaction (such as business travel); and 19% being reluctant to hire an attractive woman. This suggests that #MeToo-type empowerment can itself be counter-productive. As Brexit divisions normalise a new era of intolerance, the meagre progress which has been made may stall at a time when society’s bandwidth is consumed by other concerns. Depressing stuff."
To find out more about the Young Women’s Trust, go to: https://www.youngwomenstrust.org/
To read about the findings by the EHRC, go to: https://equalityhumanrights.com/en/managing-pregnancy-and-maternity-workplace/pregnancy-and-maternity-discrimination-research-findings
To read the Harvard Business Review article, go to: https://hbr.org/2019/09/the-metoo-backlash