It has been 3 days since we launched this project, and already it has astounded us. We always knew that discrimination towards pregnant and postpartum women is rife in the workplace, but what has shocked us more is how terrified women are to speak out against it. We have received so many messages from women supporting the site and telling us about their own experiences but the majority are too frightened to tell their story publicly. Their priority, understandably, is their family and if they were to lose their job or damage their reputation this could jeopardize their ability to care for the people they love the most. Despite this site allowing women to post their stories anonymously they are still too scared that there may be some kind of repercussion.
According to Government data, discrimination tribunals have drastically decreased. Employment tribunals overall have decreased by 70% but this has happened in-line with the introduction of new fees to take a case to court, creating a climate where justice is only available to the elite. Many discrimination cases are very hard to prove, so when the stakes are higher, you are far less likely to take the risk. Particularly if you are pregnant and therefore vulnerable, or have just had a baby and need to do everything in your power to provide for them.
Employers all over the UK are stripping women of their rights and their confidence, congratulating themselves in the name of capitalism. They are protecting their organisation, because that’s more important than one individual right?
Wrong. Protecting women, building their confidence and creating an environment where they can fulfill their potential is not only morally right, but it also has a positive impact on companies and the UK economy. The Women And Work Commission found that unleashing women’s full potential could be worth £23 billion a year to the Exchequer. To put this into context, this year’s central government budget for Education is £28.6 billion (ref: http://opportunitynow.bitc.org.uk/)
Our hope is that the more people who read the stories on this site, the more women that speak out and aren’t afraid to stand up to this kind of discrimination the more we can gently encourage societal change. Not just for the benefit of women, for the benefit of us all.
– Joeli Brearley, Founder