Working mothers need more career support

Working mothers need more career support from their employers, according to research by Santander.

The research, which surveyed more than 2,000 women, found that one-third (33%) of those returning to work after starting a family said that the time away had not affected their career progression.

The research also found that 26% of respondents who are mothers had changed careers after having children in order to better suit their family life. The same proportion had switched to a less professionally rewarding job, but one that was better for their family. 

One in eleven (9%) respondents who are mothers have taken a career break to focus on their family, while 6% have given up work altogether because they could not juggle work and family life.

The research also examined the ways in which employers could help women catch up in their careers after taking time off to have children.

It found:

  • 56% of respondents said employers should guarantee mothers the opportunity to work in the same role they did before they had children, but on a more flexible or part-time basis. 
  • 33% would like organisations to give mothers the opportunity to work from home, providing that their role is not fixed to a specific location. 
  • 30% of respondents think that employers should put in place tailored career development plans, which are specifically designed to help them catch up in their career.
  • 25% of all women, whether mothers or not, said working mothers should be given mentoring or coaching to help them catch up in their career after returning from maternity leave
  • 28% of working mothers said that the ability to fit their hours around the school day was the most important factor, while 24% said flexible working was the most important factor.
  • 17% of respondents put salary as their number one consideration. 
  • Long-term career prospects within the organisation were cited by only 8% of respondents as the most important factor, compared to 21% of women without children.

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Simon Lloyd, HR director at Santander UK, said: “These findings show that organisations need to do more to help women achieve a suitable balance between family and work that allows them to achieve their career aspirations.

“We believe that the loss of talented, experienced women from Britain’s employers is one of the biggest challenges that need to be overcome if the UK is to compete in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.”