77% of women suffer workplace discrimination globally, says report

women
No fewer than seven out of every 10 women in workplace still suffer discrimination globally, a new report conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) has revealed.

The research group, based in the United Kingdom (UK), finds that 77 per cent of women face negative or possible discriminatory experience during pregnancy, maternity leave, and/or on return from maternity leave.

The report also discovers that one in nine mothers are forced to leave their job.

Recent research carried out by the CIPD, Commissioned by the then Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, showed that experiences of employers and mothers in relation to managing pregnancy, maternity leave and mothers returning to work have been disturbing findings about the prevalence and nature of pregnancy discrimination and disadvantage in the workplace.

The research also showed that one in five mothers, 20 per cent said they experienced harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working from their employer/colleagues, while one in ten 10 per cent mothers were discouraged from attending antenatal appointments.

The report added: “While the majority of employers 84 per cent reported that it was in their interests to support pregnant women and those on maternity leave, more than a quarter, 27 percent felt pregnancy put an unreasonable cost burden on the workplace and 17 percent believed that pregnant women and mothers were less interested in career progression and promotion than other employees’.

The report highlighted that despite the strong framework of employment protections, it is clear that more public interventions are needed to address the worrying situation that the research has uncovered.

It also noted that the CIPD is very pleased to be part of an alliance to end pregnancy and maternity discrimination, formed by some of the UK’s biggest businesses.

Launched by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the ‘Working Forward – supporting pregnancy and maternity rights’ alliance will show employers how to attract, develop and retain women at work.

The EHRC said the alliance was developed, “in response to the sharp contrast of 84 per cent of British businesses who said they supported pregnant women and those on maternity leave, compared to the 77 per cent of mothers who told us they had a negative or discriminatory experience at work.”

However, the CIPD reports that some campaigners have called on the government for further assistance to tackle this complex problem, including founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, Joeli Brearley, and an organisation that campaigns to end pregnancy discrimination.

She said that while the alliance can ‘change the narrative on pregnancy and maternity from one of it being a burden’; the government needs to step in and change legislation.

“The new alliance will encourage businesses in their supply chains to sign up to the coalition and pledge to make their workplaces the best they can be for pregnant women and new mothers. Practices include nominating a gender equality champion at board level, training and supporting line managers, and promoting family friendly policies, including advertising all jobs as open to flexible working where appropriate. Companies will share their knowledge, experience and good practice with businesses that sign up.

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