International Women’s Day, the day we celebrate the lives of women all across the globe, and think of our sisters less fortunate than ourselves, I can’t help but consider issues that are closer to home.
The first is equal pay. Our last salary survey indicated that men were getting paid on average 16% more than women. In an industry where women make up the employment figures this is really poor. 81.8% of respondents to our survey were women.
The second is far more serious. It concerns discrimination of women who get pregnant. What happens to women’s careers when they get pregnant?
I have seen the following repeatedly occur:-
- Jobs held by women being made redundant before or during maternity leave.
- Women being told that their flexible working request ‘is unworkable’ on return from maternity leave.
- Women with children being blocked from promotion by those companies who say that the higher position ‘needs you to be in the office 5 days a week’, or informed that the promotion ‘requires twice as much travelling’ as the male predecessor.
- Women who are relieved from senior positions on return from maternity leave in exchange for flexible working.
This has been happening over a period of years now – it has affected many of my clients – and sadly the same publisher names keep cropping up.
You could argue that we are an industry full of women, so the odds on this happening are quite high.
You could argue that for employers of over 100 women, the odds on one or more of the job holders being pregnant when making job cuts, could be stacked against them.
You could also argue that employment law is so tight a publisher wouldn’t do this unless the job really was redundant, or the flexible working really unworkable, for fear of an employment tribunal.
Whichever way you want to justify this, it doesn’t really matter, but it is a big issue for women in the workplace in 2016, and it needs to stop. Women have a right to family life as much as their male colleagues; they should not have to sacrifice their careers for doing so.
This is an invitation for any woman working in the UK book industry who feels they have been discriminated in the workplace because they got pregnant or have children to get in touch with me. As with all the communications this will be in complete confidence and your message will go straight to me directly. If you don’t want to put anything in writing, please send your name and phone number and I will call you back.
What I will do with this data is aim to build a better picture about whether this is down to the odds being high or whether there does seem to be discrimination going on within companies.