A study carried out by charity Pregnant Then Screwed has revealed that over half of mums (52%) have faced discrimination when pregnant, on maternity leave or upon returning to work. 1 in 5 have had such negative experiences they’ve left their jobs as a result.
These stats show a widespread lack of support for those who are pregnant or returning to work. This is something sadly echoed in the results of our own workplace surveys in 2021 and 2022, where 46% of those taking part in the survey had experienced insensitive comments from colleagues during their pregnancy journey and 83% felt they had to ‘put on a brave face’ at work.
Our surveys also show that parents who have experienced pregnancy complications and loss can face particular difficulties in the workplace. We found that 57% have left, or would consider leaving, a job or not returning from maternity/paternity leave due to a lack of support during their infertility, pregnancy, loss or parenting journey. Over half of those we surveyed (54%) said that when they returned to the office after losing a baby, their colleagues did not acknowledge their loss or ask how they were.
We know, however, that while some employers, or wider workplace cultures, can be actively hostile employees navigating pregnancy and parenthood, in many cases it’s a lack of understanding that causes awkwardness or inaction. Where parents have lost a baby during pregnancy or shortly after birth, over two thirds (69%) said their managers just didn’t know how to support them.
We’re all-too aware that workplace cultures need to improve for parents in many areas. That’s why, in 2021, we launched our Pregnancy and Parenting at Work programme – to provide training and guidance for managers to support colleagues through their pregnancy journeys, whatever the outcome.