A third of women remove their wedding rings before job interviews so prospective employers don't start thinking about their family plans, according to new research. The findings were published by UK-based company, Credit Angel, and they suggest that 29 percent of married women actually try to hide any indication to their marital status or potential pregnancy plans by removing their rings.
The original study surveyed 1,712 women and found that 71 percent of participants admitted that they felt the “signal of my relationship status would harm my chances of getting the job.” When asked why, three quarters said they were worried that employers would be concerned about any forthcoming family plans, which could lead to "limited progression prospects."
In the U.K., 59 percent of employers actually believe applicants should be required to disclose when they are pregnant. In the U.S., it's considered hugely discriminatory. That's largely because working mothers are too-often subjected to discrimination, from the “motherhood penalty” to the assumption that women with children are less interested in advancement opportunities. Cornell researchers once conducted a study in which they sent fake résumés to hundreds of employers, and they even found that mothers were half as likely to be called back by prospective employers. Another more recent study found that women’s salaries decreased four percent for each child they had, so it's no wonder that women prefer to keep their marital status or pregnancy plans to themselves.
But it's not enough to just regurgitate this fact — what's more important is how companies that vow not to discriminate make women feel comfortable, so other companies can follow suit. Some companies actively publicize their acceptance and make it known that they do not and will not discriminate against married, pregnant or planning-to-be married or pregnant women. We asked a few how they're able to communicate that with female candidates, and here's what they had to say.
1. They conduct bias training.
"Our organization has carefully reviewed the recruiting process to ensure that female candidates (or any candidates) don't feel discriminated during the process," says Robin Schwartz, MFG Jobs. "Job descriptions include only the actual requirements (minimum qualifiers) of the position, not a long list of 'preferred qualifications.' The organization has also encouraged and conducted training around conscious and unconscious bias. These appear in the sourcing and interview stages of applicants and are one of the main causes of hiring discrimination."
2. They communicate openly.
"Even though we have made some pretty big steps towards creating an equal environment in the workplace, issues of discrimination still occur on a regular basis and one of the more frequent issues regarding discrimination in the workplace is the role of pregnant women or women who wish to have children while applying for a job or after acquiring the position," explains Nate Masterson, marketing manager for Maple Holistics. "Because of this, a lot of women are afraid to share their plans regarding marriage and pregnancy with their employers and will try to hide the fact or lie when answering questions regarding their desire to start a family at some point in their life.
"Companies tend to shy away from hiring people who want to start families because of the costs involved with regards to maternity leave or the fear that their job will come in as a lower priority than their family (which is to be expected) and may affect their ability to perform. While this may make sense from an economic standpoint, the fact is that discrimination such as this is largely against the law and, in most cases, companies will try and find some other illegitimate reason to get women in this position out of their company. So, in order to lessen the amount of discrimination women like this find in the workplace, companies should either make their views clear from the start of the interview process and lay out their policies regarding the subject of pregnancies in the workplace and their maternity leave package in relation to that of the relevant laws of the country, county or region that their business is based in.
"Ultimately, discouraging women who wish to start families from entering the job market is a big step backwards in terms of any progress we may be trying to make as a society and systems should be set up to encourage open dialogue between employees and employers regarding this subject... It’s a lot easier to discuss the parameters around the issue with prospective employees openly rather than forcing them to hide their intentions or simply deny them the opportunity of the job as you may be turning away some of your best employees."
3. They encourage candidates to speak with women in their company.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.