Do women receive a “maternity penalty” in your organisation?

The debate over how to increase female representation on company boards has been back in the news recently following a speech David Cameron made to delegates at the Northern Future Forum in Sweden.

How can we encourage major corporations that women are just as capable at handling senior roles as their male counterparts? This task may not be as straightforward as it sounds.

According to a recent report by Mercer, organisations are unconsciously biased against women. Sophie Black, head of Mercer’s executive remuneration team, claims “a woman’s career receives a ‘maternity penalty’ in the eyes of employers for prioritising childcare duties over work.” Women will, perhaps, turn their backs on the corporate ladder if company culture dictates that senior executives put work above family commitments.

Another problem is that women hold the majority of part-time positions in the UK. Although a lot of women choose this option because of childcare commitments, it means they will automatically be overlooked when it comes to promotion.

Females are well represented in HR departments and this should give them a golden opportunity to address the gender misbalance in other areas of their organisation. After all, women study just as hard as men and get equally good degrees, so why should they not be entitled to have as rewarding a career?

Consider the reasons why females are being overlooked in your company. Do the top brass subconsciously look at women and automatically think “potential childcare problems” and if so, what should HR be doing to remove that red flag?

About Maggie Berry