Being A New Mum At Work: How To Prevent Discrimination

12/09/2016 13:25

Becoming a new mum is one of the most magical experiences in life. You literally create a new being with your partner, carry it carefully in your body, and, when the time comes, personally bring it out to the world. It's one of the miracles of being a woman. But, with the latest report showing an increase in workplace discrimination against women, it's hard not to worry about what having a child means for your career.

The latest report published by the women and equalities select committee showed a shocking increase in workplace discrimination in the UK against expectant and new mothers. The percentage of women who left their jobs because of health and safety concerns regarding pregnancy and maternity had nearly doubled to 25%. This an alarming rise and one that doesn't help your confidence with being pregnant or a new mum at work.

You love your child with all your heart before it's even born, and you know they will be your new number one priority. After all, you and your partner are the ones responsible for giving them everything they need. Without you, they can not survive.

Yet, you love your job and you want to keep working. You enjoy the challenges you're faced with and the way they help you to grow. You want to progress in the company you're in and you want to help them to success. But, as a pregnant or new mum, you worry about how things might change. And, as a new mum, it's not like you haven't got enough things to worry about!

The good news is you can do some things to help cut down on that worry and stress.

First, get all the new mums, expectant mums and existing mums together.
Have a monthly meeting to share experiences, give each other tips, and discuss your worries. It's always easier to go through things together, especially when you can relate to each others' challenges. This is also the group that you can share any discrimination red lights with and together address them. It might also be a good gesture to let your HR know that you are starting this informal 'support group' within the organisation.

If you work for a small company that doesn't have enough willing mum participants (though you only need two to get started!), you can connect to other expectant or new mums in your industry through forums on Linkedin and Mumsnet (to name a few).

Second, remind yourself of what you have to offer.
Write a list of your top strengths and the qualities that really make you excel at your job. Remind yourself of things you've achieved, and don't be afraid of bringing them up if people start questioning what you're capable of. Keep a copy of your performance reviews and always make sure both your manager and HR has copies too. That way they can never argue "he said, she said" but it's all black ink on white paper. Then it's crystal clear that you are delivering the goods - and that you are irreplaceable.

Third, if you have a concern about being discriminated against or feeling unsafe with some of your working conditions as an expectant or new mum, speak up.
Don't hold back until it grows and blows up so that it's too late to think about it. Don't go into full attack mode either, but explain to your colleague or manager how you are feeling. Then, together, you can think of a solution that works for everyone.

Try not to let the stress of your work prevent you from enjoying this special period in your life. Remember that you can only experience it once, and that time will fly as they start growing up.

Wherever you are - be it at work or with your baby - be fully present and cherish every moment.

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