• 60% of returning mothers felt less or no confidence when coming back to work
  • Employers losing out as women dropping out of the workforce post maternity
  • Just 16% of women’s careers have progressed since having children

Hatch, the social business which champions working mothers, today releases the findings of its first Hatch Confidence Index, a study into the confidence and workplace impact of having children. The study found that women’s pay and career prospects take a serious hit when they return after maternity leave. It found that many respondents didn’t feel supported by their employers going into maternity, impacting on their confidence and ability to perform.

Stalled career progression

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the research found that motherhood has a significant impact on women’s working lives. Just 7% of women work the same number of hours, with the majority of respondents having less time to dedicate to their careers. Over half (61%) take a cut in their working hours, and one in ten (13%) of women give up work entirely in order to look after their children.

The impact extends beyond working hours, to career progression. 14% of women take a cut in responsibility at work after their maternity leave, with just 16% seeing any kind of career  progression after having children.  

Lack of confidence in employers

What’s more, women are going into maternity with little confidence that their employers will treat them well as a working mother. The study found that just a third of women (34%) felt very confident that their employer treats pregnant employees fairly.

This lack of confidence stems from how working mothers believe they are seen in the workplace. 41% of respondents believe that being a mother impacts negatively on how they are viewed in their place of work. Just 16% of mothers are very confident in their future career prospects, and a minority (11%) of women remained very confident during their pregnancy that their career would progress at the same pace when they returned. There’s no belief that change will come from government any time soon, either; a staggering 1% are very confident that the government is doing all it can to support working mothers.

Personal confidence crisis

This confidence crisis extends to how women feel about their own abilities. The study found that just 6% of women were confident during their pregnancy that they will be able to juggle motherhood and career progression. When they returned to work, a huge 60% of returning mothers felt less or no confidence in their professional skills.

When Hatch drilled into the answers of the women who reported a drop in confidence, there were some clear trends:

  • One in five (18%)  women were concerned about a lack of support from their work
  • 63% felt a drop in confidence as a result of not having done their role for a period of time. 17% were concerned about negative views from colleagues of working mothers
  • Half (49%) were worried that they’d been left behind in a fast moving industry.
  • 9% of women felt a lack of confidence due to no visible role models.

Impact on pay

Surprisingly an overwhelming majority of respondents (80%) reporting some cut in pay post motherhood – a figure which could be influenced by the cut in working hours many mothers take. However, the reduction is significant; over half (51%) of the Hatch respondents who had seen salary cut lost more than £15,000 a year, with two in five (40%) taking a cut of £20,000, and one in five (16%) taking an annual cut of more than £30,000, over the average UK salary.

Sarah Copeland, Founder and CEO of Hatch, commented on the findings:

“Motherhood is one of the most challenging stages in a woman’s life – and whilst there has been much progression in flexible working practices in the past decade, there is still a long way to go. It’s clear from our findings that a lack of ‘true’ family friendly working (where company policies are effectively translated into ongoing support for parent employees) is causing it to be even more challenging. Many women simply don’t have the confidence that their employers will support them, and old fashioned attitudes to working mothers are having a huge impact on their personal confidence, too.

“For employers, this is an issue that goes beyond workplace happiness, and to the bottom line. Studies have shown that happy working mothers are more loyal, and more productive workers. There is a huge risk that employers that don’t modernise their practice will find themselves losing talented, dedicated employees to companies that offer flexibility and family friendly policies.”

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