An Inflexible Work Culture is Costing Mothers £1.3 trillion

There are millions of highly skilled young mothers forced to take jobs far beneath their level of qualification, according to a new report from recruitment consultancy Feel. And it’s down to the inflexibility of recruiters.

Examining the current UK labour market, the survey investigated productivity stagnation and the return rates of new mothers into employment. Despite record numbers going back to work, the results showed that most are re-entering the workplace in positions below their potential.

Of those that responded, 75% of mothers said they were currently working, although 54% stated that they had had to change or leave jobs due to commitments to their family.

On top of this, 75% of the women surveyed said they had been to university, although only ~30% said that their degree had no part to play in landing their current job.

Finally, the majority of mothers who were currently looking for employment (64%) said that they were willing to trade up their flexibility for a job that met their qualification levels. Which just goes to show that there’s a wealth of female talent and experience simply going by the wayside.

Let Down

The results of the survey just go to show that highly qualified new mothers are being let down by a regressive attitude towards workplace flexibility. According to Feel’s founder, Jane Johnson, a more creative approach to the workplace could, ‘tap into this vast pool of underutilised female talent’.

Which, when you consider that 75% of respondents said they would like to find a job that offered both flexibility and the ability to use their expertise, seems to be a bit of a no-brainer.

The Cost

Further to these results, HR Review took a look at the latest data from the Office of National Statistics, which shows that, converse to popular opinion, the earning of women matches their male counterparts when they enter the workforce. But this begins to decrease for women between the ages of 25-30.

In fact, the stats show that the gap in earnings begins to widen after the age of 30, and never recovers. The median annual salary for a women between the ages of 30-65 is shockingly between £5-10k less than their male counterparts.

Talking about what these results mean to the UK economy, and new mothers themselves, Ms. Johnson added:

“There are 4.9 million working mothers in the UK, and there is an opportunity worth almost £1.3 trillion for the UK economy that is being wasted. But this can only be reversed if businesses explore more flexible ways of working and get these highly qualified, talented women back into the workforce and into jobs at their full potential where they earn salaries to match.”

“There is a huge amount of uncaptured value, but we find many businesses simply aren’t aware of just how flexible parents can be. Flexibility doesn’t just have to mean three days a week, and not being around at critical points for the business.”

Feel Communications

Feel is a recruitment consultancy whose clients are keen to discuss flexible working. Looking to hire the best talent in marketing, public relations and corporate communications, they are pushing the envelope on modern workplace practices.

Their flexible solutions include:

  • Full-time hours with working-from-home days
  • Flexible work start and end times based on the school day
  • Four days’ working hours spread over 5 days
  • Nine day ‘fortnights’ covering core business hours

With the technology available to us nowadays, there is simply no excuse for many businesses to adopt more flexible working hours. And with such talent in young mothers going to waste, we should be doing all that we can to encourage them back, not only to work, but to jobs that get the best from them.

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