In a study of over 2,000 women, the bank found that two-thirds said their career progression was adversely affected by starting a family. One in four (26%) changed careers after having children to better suit family life, with another 26% switching to less professionally rewarding roles that were better for their families. Nine per cent took a career break to focus on their family, with 6% giving up work completely.
Working mums said more flexibility would help them return to work, with 53% seeking a guarantee they could do their previous role on a flexible or part-time basis, and 33% saying they should be allowed to work from home for non-location specific roles.
The ability to fit working hours round the school day was the most important factor for 28% of those surveyed, while 24% said it was flexible working. Money came in third, with just 17% putting salary as their top consideration.
Simon Lloyd, HR director at Santander UK, said: “These findings show that companies 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 companies is one of the biggest challenges that need to be overcome if the UK is to compete in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.”
Michelle Ryan, professor of social and organisational psychology, associate dean for research in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at Exeter University, commented: “Obviously many factors come into play for a woman planning a family, as each individual’s circumstances will be different. However, it’s clear that employers need to create workplaces which offer real flexibility that reflect the needs of today’s employees if we’re to see women appropriately represented at senior management level in the future. We need a step change in attitudes to flexible working in order to help create diverse businesses that fully reflect society.”
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