by Sellick Partnership | 16 January 2014
The Pew Research Centre in Washington DC recently released its latest findings on social trends for women in the workplace. The outlook was largely positive, with women in their 20s now being paid 93% of what their male counter-parts are paid. However, the perceptions of these women didn't reflect the improving reality, with 76% of respondents thinking society needs to do more to bring equality to the workplace.
A main concern of the women interviewed was that they their bosses had unfounded concerns about the direction their family lives were going in. The minefield that employers face is that if they question employees or potential employees about plans to have children or marry, they can face legal action.
Of course it's unfair for people to be passed over for roles that they are suitable for because they plan to have children, but it's equally unfair that women who don't plan to have children or who won't be the primary carer for them can't discuss this with their employers. The Guardian did research in 2011 which suggested as many as 1 in 7 fathers are now the primary carers for their children - but there is no evidence to suggest employers are concerned about the effect a family life will have on their male employees careers.
Not being able to question women on family plans was meant to help ensure there is equality in the workplace. The UK has come a far way to achieve this, especially as over 50% of graduates are female, the knock on effect being that the traditional image of the "stay at home mum” is becoming more uncommon as many women earn more than their male partners. This should be recognised as the achievement it is, and it may well be time to start acknowledging the pink elephant in the room when women are being interviewed and discussing their professional future.
A frank discussion between employers and women could increase confidence on both sides.
How do you feel about the legal implications employers can face when asking about a potential employee's personal future; is it necessary to have boundaries, or should there actually be more transparency for both men and women? Leave your thoughts and experiences below.