women unemployed
A survey, commissioned by Santander, found that a third (30%) of working mothers think that companies should put in place tailored career development plans, both during pregnancy and after they return to work, to help them catch up in their career. The survey of over 2,000 women found that only 33% of women who returned to work after starting a family said that the time away had not affected their career progression.

A quarter of the women questioned in the survey, stated that flexibility was the most important way companies could help their career. 28% found it difficult to manage their time and fit their hours round the school day and this could prevent them from returning to work, 24% of the women suggested flexible working and money was the third most important factor with only 17% putting their salary as their number one consideration when returning to work, so their time is the main priority.

Human resource director of Santander, Simon Lloyd, said “These findings show that companies need to do more to help women achieve a suitable balance between family and work that allows them to achieve their career aspirations”. Simon also stated that the loss of experienced women from British companies is the biggest challenge the UK will have to face and overcome if they want to compete in the global market.

The Women’s British Council was established last year in an attempt to advise the government on ways in which they can help boost female employment. The WBC’s report ‘Maximising women’s contribution to future economic growth’, states that there are 2.4m women who are not working but want to work and a further 1.3m women who want to increase their hours. Lastly says that, if they were working, this would boost the economy by 0.5 per cent a year or ten per cent by 2030. The report also says that if women started their own businesses at the same rate as men there could be one million more entrepreneurs in the UK.

This report by the WBC makes a range of recommendations for the Government and businesses in ways they can encourage women’s careers prospects.

The report by the WBC makes a range of recommendations for the Government and business covering every stage of women’s working lives to remove obstacles to women working and to encourage more women to set up their own businesses.

They include:

• Broadening girls’ aspirations and job choices before they leave school, encouraging more girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math’s, where women are under-represented.
• Businesses should embrace the benefits of flexible working and support for working parents.
• The Government should extend childcare tax breaks ‘if the economic climate allows’.
• Appoint a business champion for older workers ‘in the third phase of their working lives’ to promote the business benefits of recruiting and retaining them.
• Provide more support for women who want to set up their own businesses.

‘Flexible working supports everybody’

Almost a third (30%) of working mums think that companies should put in place tailored career development plans – both during pregnancy and after they return to work – which are specifically designed to help them catch up in their career.

Michelle Ryan, Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology, Associate Dean for Research in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Exeter University commented: “Obviously many factors come into play for a woman planning a family, as each individual’s circumstances will be different.

“However, it’s clear that employers need to create workplaces which offer real flexibility that reflect the needs of today’s employees if we’re to see women appropriately represented at senior management level in the future.
“We need a step change in attitudes to flexible working in order to help create diverse businesses that fully reflect society.”

‘The Government should take note of each of these recommendations. Instead, it has been cutting support for childcare and tax credits that help women – especially lone parents – to make work pay, introducing a universal credit system that will discourage women in couples from entering paid work, cutting maternity pay in real terms and failing to act on pregnancy discrimination.’

‘Business leaders know that women have a valuable economic contribution to make, and that diversity contributes directly to economic success.’