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Working mothers feel being a parent holds them back from promotion

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

Two in five working mothers think being a parent is holding them back from promotion at work, a new study suggests.

Around a third of mothers said people who work the longest hours are the most respected by senior leaders in their organisation, according to the research by Working Families.

Nearly half of working parents disagreed that the senior leaders in their organisation are positive role models for achieving a good work-life balance. 

In more positive news, 41 per cent of said the pandemic has had a positive impact on workplace culture at their organisation 

Half of parents said open conversations about wellbeing and mental health are more accepted at work now than they were before the pandemic.

However, more a third (36 per cent) of working parents, and almost half (48 per cent) of carers say now that lockdown is over, they are concerned taking time off for caring needs will be frowned upon at work.

Jane van Zyl, chief executive of Working Families, said:While increasingly high numbers of managers and leaders recognise the benefits of family-friendly ways of working, there are still pockets of resistance across sectors.

“But the experience of the pandemic has speeded up a shift in how many of us want to work, and those resisting positive change will find it comes back to bite them: 85 per cent of working parents told us that they would prioritise work life balance when looking for their next role.

“Faced with a choice between an employer who puts effort into employee wellbeing and one that celebrates unhealthy working practices, I think we can all guess where the best and brightest talent is going to go.”

Maike Currie, investment director at Fidelity International, said: “The decision to start a family is often a happy one, but not without its considerations. The cost of raising a child is not insignificant, and the financial price often paid by mothers – with many women not only risking losing out on potential promotions or pay rises in their careers, but also risking a smaller pension pot in the future.

“The motherhood penalty is very real, with the time taken to have and look after family meaning women are left with fewer long term savings for retirement. This is then exacerbated by other roadblocks including the cost of childcare and the potential loss of future income if careers are held back.

“We need to ensure that all parents, feel able to have both a family and a fulfilling career if they wish. It is the duty of all employers to create an inclusive culture where all can thrive no matter their life choices.”