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We’re supporting ‘Working Forward’ – backing mothers in the workplace 

16 September 2016

Barclays and the Royal Mail are just a few of the companies we’re working with in leading a coalition of businesses in the initiative ‘Working Forward – supporting pregnancy and maternity rights’.

We aim to inspire other organisations by working to eradicate discrimination from their businesses and make the best use of their female workforce.

We will also encourage businesses in our supply chain to sign up to the coalition and pledge to make their workplaces the best they can be for pregnant women and new mothers.

Working Forward

With over 15 million women active in the UK labour market at any time, women make up half of the UK workforce. However, research shows 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. It’s claimed 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.

Working Forward, set up by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, follows its recent landmark research, carried out in conjunction with the former Department from Business, Innovation and Skills which highlighted that while the majority of employers say they are firm supporters of female staff during and after pregnancy and find it easy to comply with the law, three in four (77%) mothers say they have had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience at work.

David Isaac, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “We can no longer accept women being unfairly treated at work because they are pregnant or on maternity leave. We are calling on employers to sign up to our initiative to commit to delivering equality and ensure working environments benefit everyone.

“Attracting, developing and retaining talent, regardless of gender, is absolutely critical for the UK economy and for our businesses. Companies that show a real commitment to this are not only doing the right thing but can also gain a competitive edge.

“Our Working Forward founding members all recognise the importance of women in their workforces. Together, we want to raise the bar across the business community and ultimately improve the experiences of employers and employees.”

Marc Allera, Chief Executive of EE from the BT Group, said: “As one of the UK’s largest employers and one that prides itself on being a great place to work, we are hugely supportive of this campaign.

We are committed to creating a work environment that is fully supportive of pregnant women and new mothers and we’re proud to have a higher than average return to work rate of women after maternity leave of 86%. However we know there is more to do and that’s why we believe it's important for organisations to work together and share good practice to help eradicate discrimination from businesses.”

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