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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY, THE GENDER PAY GAP AND THE MOTHERHOOD PENALTY

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, SEO London wants to comment on the Gender Pay gap and the Motherhood penalty.


Research has shown that mothers and non-mothers face gender discrimination in the workplace that stops women from being paid fairly for their work, progressing to senior leadership roles or returning to work after becoming mothers. While progress has been made to better support women in the workplace more still needs to be done.


Research and data from various organisations have shown that mothers need more support in the workplace as they face discrimination and barriers that negatively impact their ability to return to work and progress in their careers. Most working mothers face what is called the ‘Motherhood Penalty’ a term used to refer to the disadvantages mothers encounters in the workplace in pay, perceived competence, and benefits. The TUC has calculated a 7% pay gap between mothers and non-mothers working full-time with similar personal characteristics, such as education, region, occupation and social class. The Women’s Budget Groupon found that by the time a first child has reached the age of 20, mothers earn almost a third less per hour, on average than similarly educated fathers. The main reason for the pay disparity between mothers and fathers is the fact that most mothers work part-time so that they can cope with all of the other unpaid work they have to do.



Women, in general, are paid less than their male counterparts according to government statistics, in 2022, the mean gender pay gap is 5.45% and the median is 9.71%. In monetary terms, the mean hourly difference in ordinary pay is £1.44 compared to £1.48 in 2021. The TUC has calculated the gender pay across various industries and has found that the finance and insurance industry has the largest gender pay gap of 32.3% which is the equivalent of 118 days of unpaid work.

The government and employers should do more to address the gender pay gap and support working mothers. Many organisations have lobbied the government and made recommendations to employers such as providing cheaper childcare as the UK has the second most expensive childcare system in the world. The cost of early years provision in the UK is among some of the highest in the world, with fees now reaching £7,000 each year for a two-year-old on average.

Employers should actively encourage flexible working patterns to reduce the stigma that surrounds them. Flexible working patterns not only benefit working mums but the entire workforce as employees is able to balance their personal responsibilities and their work. While flexible working patterns have become more common since the COVID lockdowns research has shown that many workers negatively perceive workers who work flexible hours or part-time. Some perceive these workers as less committed and motivated about their work and the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that a third of employers believe that pregnant women and mothers are generally less interested in career progression than their childless and male counterparts and 77% of working mums say they have experienced discrimination in the workplace.


Also, employers can implement paternity/partner leave to support dads to take properly paid maternity leave to support their families. The CIPD has found that many organisations support expanding paternity/partner leave and pay. Expanding paternity leave not only allows mothers the option to return to work on a full-time basis but helps to elevate the pressure of childcare and decreases the gender pay gap. Moreover, the Women’s Budget Group recommends that the government makes it a legal obligation for employers to publish action plans along with reporting their gender pay gap figures and introduce automatic fines for non-submission of reports. As well as, part-time jobs need to be equally valued, better paid and have genuine opportunities for career progression and fully flexible working.


All of these recommendations support women and mothers to return to work by creating an environment where they feel like they are respected, belong and are paid fairly for their work. All of this is important to the well-being of employees, and it can help with national recruitment and access to talent. Many organisations have found that having a diverse and inclusive workplace increases the ability to recruit a diverse talent pool and 5.4 times higher employee retention. In addition, supporting mothers to return to work increases overall gender diversity, a report by McKinsey & Company found a positive correlation between gender diversity on executive teams and financial performance. Top-quartile companies on executive-level gender diversity worldwide had a 21% likelihood of outperforming their fourth-quartile industry peers on EBIT margin and had a 27% likelihood of outperforming fourth-quartile peers on longer-term value creation, as measured using an economic-profit margin.


SEO London's HR efforts:

‘At SEO London we are aligned with the Statutory requirements within the UK, including Shared Parental Leave and Parental Bereavement Policies. The policies as they currently stand simply follow the Statutory requirements, rather than being seen as a benefit or a particularly engaging employee experience therefore we’re during the process of reviewing all parental leave policies and introducing a broader Family Friendly policy.

All of the Family Friendly policies will be aligned to ensure we have an agile approach that also incorporates our approach to DE&I, flexible working and Wellbeing and ensures we can be flexible around our employees changing circumstances.’


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