The advertising and media industry has the worst attitude towards flexible working, according to a survey of professional women.
The research, conducted by career coaching specialist Talking Talent, found that working mothers in law, accountancy and education ranked their sectors highly for support and understanding of the need for work-life balance. However, media, financial services and government came off poorly in the sector analysis.
The Career Paradox for UK Women is published as a World Economic Forum report shows that the UK has slipped out of the top 20 countries when it comes to gender equality.
In advertising and media 49% of women felt that being a working mother had hindered their career progress. In financial services, 49% said they had experienced prejudice and discrimination, and the figure was 40% for working mothers in government.
Talking talent chief executive Chris Parke said employers need to do more to tackle this problem. “The level of prejudice and discrimination towards women and working mothers, and the fact such a large proportion have been passed over for promotion due to their gender is shocking,” he said. “If employers fail to stamp this out and to introduce measures to support women particularly through maternity, employers will miss out on a huge section of their top talent – something they can ill-afford to do in today’s competitive economy.”
The survey identified a paradox in the responses, as 80% of women said they felt supported by their organisations, while 44% overall claimed their gender has hindered them.
It added that flexible working is the most vital ingredient for working mothers looking to progress their careers, with 38% of women putting it first. Role models and more thought to provision for working women and mothers were also cited.
The report urged companies to build a specific female talent strategy that recognises the uniqueness of the challenges facing women, especially in male-dominated environments. It identified particular age points where women’s perception of their career progression dips and said 25-44 year olds are not getting the support they need.
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