100 businesses pledge to Working Forward on pregnancy and maternity rights at work

Published: 06 Mar 2017

Pets at Home has joined the national coalition Working Forward alongside major household names such as Barclays, BT Group and Mitie to promote the best ways employers can attract, develop and retain women at work and make their work places the best they can be.

As the UK’s leading pet care retailer, Pets At Home has more than 390 stores nationwide and 6500 employees, and joins other new members including Danone, Sage and Carillion.

Vicky Hill, Head of People at Pets at Home, said:

“We are delighted to be a member of the Working Forward campaign. We strive to be a great place to work for all of our colleagues, including pregnant women and new mothers so anything that we can do to support our colleagues in having the best career possible while enjoying the best possible home life is a fundamental part of our People strategy.

“We always aim to live up to our value of ‘Getting Better Every Day’ and joining the Working Forward campaign will help us get even better at supporting our colleagues. We look forward to learning from our fellow members and the Equality and Human Rights Commission about how we can further improve the lives of our colleagues who are pregnant and new mothers.”

Caroline Waters, Deputy Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who set up Working Forward, said:

“Businesses are quite rightly taking this issue seriously and recognising that female talent is absolutely critical to the UK economy.

“Now with 100 businesses pledging to take action and joining Working Forward, we have a strong coalition to ensure working environments benefit everyone.  

“However the battle is not yet over; each of us must drive the change that will eliminate the unfairness that discrimination during pregnancy and maternity creates for thousands of women every year.”

Following the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy also joining Working Forward, Business Minister Margot James said:

"I am delighted Working Forward has reached this significant milestone and I hope that more employers will be inspired to sign up to this important campaign. Discrimination in the workplace is illegal and the Government is committed to stamping it out.

"That is why my department has joined 99 other employers in pledging to make our workplace as inclusive as it can be for new and expectant mothers."

To celebrate International Women’s Day taking place on 8 March, the families of working mums are saying thank you to all the companies who have joined Working Forward.

Children of employees working at Royal Mail, Nationwide Building Society, and Ford feature in a new video about why they are pleased their parents work for organisations which support pregnant women and new mothers, as well as to encourage others to sign up to Working Forward.

Both Toni and Suc’s children feature in the video.

Toni Jeffryes, Cover Manager at Royal Mail, said:

“I love working at Royal Mail, and the fact that I can progress my career while balancing a hectic home life with my kids is hugely motivating.

“I have worked flexibly for the last few years, in a job share arrangement and now with reduced hours, but still have access to fantastic training and development opportunities and have recently been enrolled on a managerial training course.”

Suc Kundi, Branch Manager at Nationwide Building Society, said:

“I was fully supported by Nationwide when I returned from maternity leave: as well as my health and wellbeing, my line manager and area manager supported me in picking up my career development from where I had left off. 

“Just one example of this is when I was sponsored to join a senior leadership programme immediately on my return. It was very reassuring to know that I was valued, they believed in me and that my career prospects weren’t affected by my time out.”

Working Forward, established by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, follows its landmark research, which shows pregnancy and maternity discrimination and disadvantage at work affects around 390,000 pregnant women and new mothers each year.

It highlights that, while the majority of employers say they are firm supporters of female staff during and after pregnancy and find it easy to comply with the law, three in four (77%) mothers say they have had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience at work.

Members, which include large and small businesses from across the private and public sector, help to drive long-term positive change by signing up to action in at least two areas, including:

  • demonstrating leadership from the top down
  • ensuring confident employees 
  • training and supporting line managers
  • offering flexible working practices

Business can sign up and pledge their support.

Notes to editors

Watch the full video below or view on YouTube.

Show your support by using #WorkingForward

Find out more about Working Forward, including more information about all of the founding members and how to sign up.

Read the full pregnancy and maternity discrimination research findings.

Research shows the business case for diversity in the workplace:

  • women make a valuable contribution to the business, which is imperative to maintain competitive advantage (it is estimated that women drive between 70 to 80% of all consumer purchasing decisions)
  • companies which seek to thrive need to attract, recruit and retain women through all stages of their lives, and especially motherhood, significantly many women feel they have to choose between parenting and a career
  • Britain could add £600 billion to our economy if we equalise women’s productivity and employment to the same as men’s, and
  • businesses in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 per cent more likely to outperform the national industry median.

Press contact details

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