Today, the advo group has officially become a member of Working Forward, a nationwide initiative launched by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which encourages businesses to adopt best practice for pregnant women and new parents in the workplace.
Working Forward is a coalition backed by some of the UK’s leading businesses and industry bodies, including Barclays, BT Group, Ford, HSBC, Royal Mail and Transport for London, among others. These members recognise the pressing need to eliminate maternity-related discrimination and disadvantage in the workplace, and the value that such action has in attracting, developing and retaining parents.
As part of its membership of Working Forward advo has made a number of pledges of support and commitments to how the initiative will be taken forward within the group.
On Leadership: advo has appointed Operations Manager, Lucy Irvine, as the representative to focus on improving practice in relation to pregnancy, maternity and return to work.
On Employee Confidence: advo will provide employees with a communications plan that they can tailor to cover pregnancy, maternity and return to work, and ensure early ongoing conversations with their line managers.
On Support for Line Managers: advo will encourage all line managers to complete the free Acas maternity/ pregnancy training course available to Working Forward members and will offer advice on how to identify and tackle health and safety risks for both pregnancy and breastfeeding.
On flexible Working: advo will trial new ways of working and be transparent and clear about the types of flexible working the organisation has considered, offered and granted.
David Isaac, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “We are thrilled to welcome the advo group as our latest member and look forward to working with their team on generating real positive change within their business.
“Discriminating against women at work because they are pregnant or newly returned from maternity leave is simply unacceptable. That is why we are calling on employers across the UK to sign up to the Working Forward pledge, which is free to join.
“By doing the right thing, companies can improve their bottom line and gain a competitive edge when they encourage and support female staff. Attracting, developing, and retaining talent, regardless of gender, is absolutely critical for the UK economy.
“Our Working Forward members all recognise the importance of women in their workforces, the contributions they make, and the value they add. Together, we want to raise the bar across the business community and ultimately improve the experiences of employers and employees.”
advo’s Operations Manager, Lucy Irvine commented, “With a large percentage of our [advo’s] workforce being talented women in their 20’s and 30’s, we would be foolish not to address how best to manage the situation and future proof the needs of the business. The Working Forward campaign has given us the perfect opportunity to properly look at how we can handle this situation. “
The Working Forward initiative was launched following research commissioned by the EHRC (reference below) which found a number of new and expectant mothers face maternity-related disadvantage and discrimination in the workplace:
- 77% report a negative or discriminatory experience during pregnancy, maternity leave or return to work
- 41% report a risk or impact to their health or welfare
- 20% experience harassment or negative comments related to pregnancy or flexible working
- 11% felt forced to leave their job
Women make up half of the nation’s workforce, with over 15 million women active in the UK labour market at any time. Findings show that if women’s participation in the labour market increased to roughly the same as men’s, it would add 10% to the size of the economy by 2030. In addition, more than two million women who are not working want to work and over one and half million women in work would like to do more hours.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) commissioned a programme of research to investigate the prevalence and nature of pregnancy discrimination and disadvantage in the workplace. The full report can be viewed here:
Over two hundred and fifty businesses have joined Working Forward since it was established. Founding Members include Barclays, BT Group, Ford, HSBC, John Lewis Partnership, Mitie, Nationwide, Royal Mail and Transport for London, while official Supporters include CIPD FSB, CBI and IOD.