One in four pregnant women reluctant to share news with employers

An exasperated woman at a desk rests her head on her laptop to show how women, including pregnant women,  can feel let down by outdated attitudes More than one in four (26 percent) pregnant women feel reluctant to share their pregnancy news due to fear of the stigma they may face from colleagues and managers, according to a new poll from Culture Shift. This jumped to almost half (46 percent) for those who had been in employment for less than six months when they fell pregnant. The survey conducted among mothers who worked while pregnant reveals more than one in five (21 percent) know someone who has faced maternity discrimination at work, while one in eight (12 percent) have experienced it themselves. More than one in ten (11 percent) say it was their manager who discriminated against them.

Maternity discrimination is defined as unfair treatment because a person is pregnant, breastfeeding or has given birth within the last 26 weeks by the Equality Act 2010. When questioned how they experienced discrimination at work, women responded:

  • 16 percent say how they were treated at work while pregnant impacted their mental health
  • 15 percent felt like their colleagues were talking about them behind their back
  • 14 percent say their employer no longer recognised their good work
  • 12 percent weren’t invited to team socials
  • 10 percent say their working hours were reduced when they told their manager they were pregnant
  • 7 percent say they weren’t included in team meetings

Gemma McCall, CEO at Culture Shift, said: “It’s devasting to see that so many expectant mothers feel reluctant to share their pregnancy news due to fear of negativity from their co-workers and managers. I experienced maternity discrimination during both of my pregnancies, so I know first-hand how such discrimination can impact those facing it.

“Having a child is a huge moment for parents and affects so many aspects of their life. Expectant mothers already have a lot to contend with as they prepare for the arrival of their little one and they shouldn’t have to be subjected to such behaviour which can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety. Not only this, but facing maternity discrimination can make expectant mothers feel incredibly isolated. Being pregnant should be an enjoyable experience for mothers, and they shouldn’t be exposed to such negative behaviour in their place of work.”

Expectant mothers are also noticing changes in the behaviour of their colleagues towards them with one in six (16 percent) saying they were treated negatively by their manager and one in 10 (10 percent) by fellow employees once they announced their news. One in six (16 percent) expectant mothers say this treatment resulted in them no longer feeling like a valued member of the team.