Megan SuttonTue, 6 April 2021, 12:50 pm
The National Childbirth Trust, a leading charity in all things pregnancy and parenting, has published studies that highlight the issues affecting working mums (data is historically focused on mums rather than dads as primary carers of children, although happily things are changing now to reflect the need for accessible paternity leave, too).
An NCT survey in 2008 found that 33% of new mums worried about attitudes of employers and colleagues upon their return to work, while 39% rated their return to work as difficult or very difficult. A further NCT survey from 2014 found that for 40% of women, support from their workplace/employer was a factor in deciding whether or not to even go back to work.
Fast forward a few years, and these issues are still very much present. The Equality and Human Rights Commission reported three quarters of mothers had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience at work as a result of pregnancy and maternity in its 2018 Is Britain Fairer? report.
Clearly, this isn’t okay and so we’re pleased to hear that a simple but important step in helping new parents to reenter the world of work has been initiated by work-focussed online networking platform LinkedIn.
The platform is adding “stay-at-home mum” and “stay-at-home dad” as job titles people can fill in their profile with, and removing an old requirement that said job titles needed to be linked to an employer, to help its users account for official employment gaps post-having children.
According to Fortune, LinkedIn was encouraged to make these changes after a post by Heather Bolen recently went viral.
“By simply modernising its profile editing options, LinkedIn holds the key to encouraging transparent dialogue about employment gaps,” Bolen wrote in the article. “These conversations could help set the stage for improvements in company leave policies and work arrangements that better support primary caregivers.”
It seems the piece gave LinkedIn food for thought, as in response, its director of engineering Bef Ayenew said: “I wholeheartedly agree that we need to normalise employment gaps on the profile to help reframe hiring conversations.”
In the coming months, LinkedIn will implement other changes, including letting users specify the type of hiatus they’ve taken, including “parental leave,” “family care leave,” or “sabbatical”, the networking platform has said.
The changes are simple but they contribute to a much-needed shift in attitude and conversation that will hopefully help many working parents.