In National Inclusion Week, shocking findings of a new in-depth study conducted by Lisa Carver of Carver Coaching reveals the extent of pressure new Mums face when returning to work after having a baby, with 89% of Mums suffering career regression along with gender bias & a deepening disparity in the work place.
Company Founder and Executive coach Lisa said she was ‘saddened’ by the findings, saying:
“This is our modern-day epidemic. The majority of women are not supported in their return to work. Women are scarred by their experiences with many reporting depression, chronic anxiety, and many leave their careers altogether. This confidential study has seen thousands of women flock to tell their experiences.”
The survey ran from Aug 2018 until Aug 2019 and collated hard data from thousands of women wanting to share the heart-breaking stories of their experiences. What quickly became evident from the study is this is not an isolated problem. Women from all industries returning back to work are faced with the same lack of support and discriminatory behaviors.
The crux of the data shows:
- 89% feel that their career progression was hindered by their maternity leave. Felt that they were overlooked for career progression by their nonparent or male counterparts
- Shockingly 51% of maternity returners, ended up leaving their jobs because they felt unsupported and mounting pressure out on them.
- A staggering 91% of women interviewed for the survey used these words to describe their mindset during their return-to-work phase; anxious, isolated, worried, overwhelmed, lost, stressed, dread, guilt, scared, shocked
Herself returning from her 3rd maternity leave, Lisa believes many Corporates merely give lip service to supporting returners, citing some shocking examples of the survey feedback from returning Mums:
- ‘I was told the team shouldn’t be punished for my lifestyle choice when I was negotiating my return to work’
- ‘Before maternity leave, I was the crown princess, post-maternity leave I was a threat and all of a sudden the opportunities disappeared.’
- ‘I was told it was “a shame” I was pregnant’
- ‘Before my mat leave, I had been on a fast track leadership course. Since returning, I’ve been asked if I was even interested in having a career. My opinion no longer counts.’
- ‘the language in emails felt along the lines of being under a disciplinary rather than going on mat leave.’
- ‘people in top positions think maternity is a ‘break’.
- ‘he believed women should stay at home and couldn’t be committed to their jobs (he actually said this to me)’
- ‘My employer chose not to have children and punished me at every opportunity for making a decision she didn’t like. She constantly told me that I had a baby brain (my child was 2) and made comments about me not being committed to my job.’
Lisa believes that this survey is a damning indictment on our culture and is calling for HR professionals and leaders take note and improve their support for parents returning to work after having a child, saying:
‘We talk about equality and supporting maternity returners, but the evidence shows that today’s reality isn’t as progressive as we had thought. Drilling down it to what work life is really like for these returning Mums, shows a cavernous divide from where we are, to where we need to be. In the face of returning to work, where there is a lack of support, more than half of those returning mums will leave their jobs. This kind of work is imperative to grow awareness and push for progress in implementing solutions to support women is equally so.’
From the research, Lisa has developed a number of tips for returning parents as well as tips for HR and managers of returners, to help prepare and support people when they return back to work. All of these can be accessed for free. A full list can be found on the website www.carvercoaching.co.uk/research
Lizzie Henson, founder of HR Ninjas, added:
“Surveys like this provide invaluable insights for organisations as to how they can best support maternity returners into the workplace. Aside from professional guidelines and procedures it’s important for people who manage maternity returners to have empathy, and research like this helps to create a greater depth of understanding which in turn helps us to support the returner more effectively.”