Employers say they’d be reluctant to hire women who may have children

1 in 8 employers say they would be reluctant to hire a woman who they thought may go on to have children, a new YouGov survey for Young Women’s Trust has found.

In the survey of 800 HR decision-makers, a significant minority (12%) were unsure about hiring women who may have children in the future – despite it being illegal to make recruitment decisions on this basis. 14% of male HR decision-makers and ten per cent of female decision-makers expressed this view.

Despite the scale of the problem, fewer male HR decision-makers than previously expressed reluctance to hire women who may go on to have children (14% in 2019, compared with 16% in 2018 and 18% in 2017); during this period reluctance amongst female HR decision-makers has remained constant at around 10%.

1 in 7 HR decision-makers (14%) said that the organisation they work in takes account of whether a woman is pregnant or has children during decisions about career progression or promotion – which is against the law. Again, this represents progress, compared with 22% who reported this in 2018 and 25% in 2017.

Young Women’s Trust’s Director of Communications and Campaigns Joe Levenson said: 

“It is encouraging that fewer bosses than previously say they would be reluctant to employ women who may go on to have children. However, there can be no room for complacency as ‘dinosaur bosses’ are still found in many workplaces, unfairly overlooking women when it comes to recruitment and promotion and breaking the law in the process.”

Note to editors 

  1. Young Women’s Trust is a charity that supports and represents women in England and Wales aged 18 to 30 trapped by low or no pay and facing a life of poverty. The charity provides services and runs campaigns to make sure that the talents of young women don’t go to waste.
  2. Young Women’s Trust commissioned YouGov to conduct a survey of HR decision-makers. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 802 senior HR professionals / people managers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4 – 23 February 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the UK business population by size and sector.
  3. The charity conducted the same survey in 2018 and 2017, finding the number of male employers expressing reluctance to hire women has decreased slightly each year.