Companies are still blatantly discriminating against pregnant people

My story is very tame compared to many I’ve read here, but I wanted to share it as I was really unprepared for the reality of job hunting while pregnant. Also wanted to say thank you to Pregnant Then Screwed for the advice they gave me.

When I fell pregnant I was freelancing, and lost one of my big clients very early on (they didn’t know I was pregnant). I started panicking and applied for some full time roles. I had a first round interview and test for a full-time role when I was around 15 weeks pregnant, and was really happy to be asked back for the second round.

As I was nearing 20 weeks at this point I decided to disclose my pregnancy when I accepted the invitation, with a note about how serious I was about the role and that I would be happy to discuss further at the interview. Perhaps naively, I had hoped it would be received fairly well – the company is a large fashion brand with a predominantly female staff, and the job description highlighted that they were an equal opportunities employer, including ‘parental status’. I wanted to go into the interview relaxed and with my cards on the table, as well as not stressing about hiding a bump. To be honest, I was not expecting to get the job after telling them, but I felt that honesty was the best policy and that if I wowed them enough at the interview they might be prepared to make allowances.

What I wasn’t expecting was to be completely ghosted. I’d been asked to choose a time slot for the interview and had been told there was a task to deliver beforehand – from my first interview I knew that this would take at least two days. When I still hadn’t received a reply, event invite or the task by the day before I contacted Pregnant Then Screwed for advice on how to proceed. I hated being made to feel bad for being pregnant, and couldn’t believe that they would just ignore me in the hope I’d take the hint and go away.

As advised, I emailed again and said I presumed my interview was no longer happening and I had to assume that this was because I was pregnant. Lo and behold, they got back to me straight away with an excuse about annual leave and crossed-wires internally, which I didn’t buy at all – it reeked of panic, and I knew from the time slots provided that interviews were already taking place, and the person I’d been in touch with had not been away. By that point I’d already come to the conclusion that the company wasn’t one I’d want to work at, so declined the second interview. Although ultimately I feel like I dodged a bullet, it really hit home for me how companies are still blatantly discriminating against pregnant people, despite outwardly claiming to be inclusive.

I really appreciated having a place I could call for advice, and it galvanised me into challenging the company, and telling them I didn’t believe a word of it. Although I’m disappointed, I feel like I kept my dignity intact, and didn’t just slink away quietly like I would have done in the past. It has made me really angry for the thousands of women who have had to deal with situations much, much worse than this during what is supposed to be a really happy time in their lives.

I’m pretty worried about my career prospects after our baby arrives, but when I’m ready I’m going to go into job hunting with the attitude that a company needs to prove to me that they are a good employer, as much as I need to prove that I’m the best person for the job.


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