Survey shows bosses are routinely breaking sex discrimination laws

A survey carried out by law firm Slater and Gordon has revealed that 1 in 3 bosses would reject a female applicant if they suspected that she might start a family soon.

This is one of several findings in the survey that suggest there is still a long way to go before hiring decisions are genuinely equal. In a survey earlier this year by the same firm, employers admitted to selecting audiences for online job adverts that deliberately ruled out certain audiences – which also contravenes the law.

What do the stats say?

Slater and Gordon interviewed 501 bosses of SME businesses in the UK, and the survey revealed the following statistics:

  • One in four has rejected, or would reject, a woman because she was a single parent.
  • 29% would reject a woman because she had young children.
  • 28% would reject a woman if she was recently engaged or married.
  • 37% of bosses would advertise jobs as ‘for men only’ if they were allowed to do so.
  • 40% admitted they thought men were more committed to their jobs than women.
  • 14% of bosses said their companies did nothing to support women returning to work from maternity leave.

In an age where we generally believe that discrimination is becoming a thing of the past, these statistics have shocked the law firm itself, as well as those who have seen the findings. Many of the results indicate that bosses have knowingly broken the law on sex discrimination when hiring new employees, and would go further if they were allowed.

And employment lawyers at Slater and Gordon say that the real statistics are likely to be higher:

“Our survey exposes the number of bosses who are willing to admit to their prejudices- in an anonymous capacity – suggesting the real number is likely to be far higher,” said Remziye Ozcan, one of the firm’s employment specialists.

“It is not only illegal but also totally counterproductive if bosses refuse to entertain a woman’s job application, regardless of her experience, skill set or qualifications, simply because they feel she might have a child soon because it excludes so much talent and expertise from a workforce.

“A huge shift in attitudes still needs to take place before women feel they are not penalised for wanting both a career and children. Men are never asked to choose between the two. This discrimination also affects women generally, those who don’t plan to have children or already have children, as it is about attitudes and stereotypes applied to women generally.”

Are you getting it right?

If you are found to be discriminating against candidates because of their sex or parental status, you could be in a lot of trouble, and there will be severe damage to your corporate reputation. Talk to us about recruitment policies, interview training and discrimination awareness so that your business hires the best people and stays on the right side of the law.

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