Unconscious bias towards mothers

Most of us don’t want to believe that we are biased towards certain types of people, or that we see people as less capable or able simply because of their gender, race, disability or parental status, but we do. We all do. Only by being aware of this bias and finding methods to counter it will we have a truly diverse workforce.

Research conducted in the US asked recruiters to compare the CVs of people with very similar skills and experience. The only real difference was parental status. The research found that mothers were seen as less competent, less committed and deserving of lower salaries than other types employees. In fact, on average, they were offered a starting salary of $10,000 less than other types of employees.

When it comes to maternal employment, the majority of people still think either mothers should stay at home or work part-time, particularly when there is a child under school age.

Only 7% of British Social Attitudes survey interviewees felt mothers of under-5s should have full-time jobs. 

Part-time work was judged acceptable by 38% - but one in three felt those with under-5s should be stay-at-home mums.

Then there is the research which shows that 44% of employers avoid hiring a woman of childbearing age (Workable 2019).

One in five (22 per cent) of HR professionals admit that a woman being pregnant or a mother affects her promotion chances. The YouGov survey of more than 800 UK HR professionals involved in employment decisions also discovered more than one in 10 (12 per cent) said women were taken less seriously in their organisation when they returned from maternity leave. 

It is no coincidence that 77% of mothers say they have encountered discriminatory treatment in the workplace.

Implicit bias is holding back women in the workplace and this is holding back companies and our economy, by dealing with your implicit bias you will ensure you recruit, retain and promote the best people.