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Annie Hayes

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Pregnancy discrimination puts diversity in the spotlight

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As many as 30,000 women a year lose their jobs simply for being pregnant, and the news has renewed calls for diversity to be put centre stage.

A new report Sexism and the City, by equality pressure group The Fawcett Society, shows that mothers-to-be and new mothers experience the most discrimination in the labour market and reveals that nearly one in five women who work in London earn less than the London living wage, whilst women in the capital earn 23% less than their male colleagues. They conclude that motherhood carrys a penalty, and poverty has a female face.

The pressure group noted that despite nearly 40 years of discrimination laws, women are still subject to ‘worrying’ levels of direct sexual harassment, with visiting lapdance clubs becoming an increasingly normal way for companies to entertain clients.

Yet polls carried out by Ipsos MORI show that as many as 60% of women would be very or fairly uncomfortable working for an organisation that allows its employees to do just this.

Dr Katherine Rake, director of the Fawcett Society, said:
“Behind the conspicuous wealth of the city lies a hidden story of disadvantage and discrimination affecting women at every level of business – from the bathroom to the boardroom. For the first time, Fawcett is exposing the links between these experiences. That link is sexism.”

Dianah Worman, diversity adviser for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) welcomed the research, but said it would take more than political wrangling to change behaviours: “We need to make the business case for diversity and inclusion through a campaign that hits where it hurts – namely, the bottom line on the balance sheet.”

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Annie Hayes

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