The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) worked with leading panel provider Find Out Now to conduct a landmark survey of more than 4,100 respondents in February 2023. The research found that two thirds of women feel they have missed out on career progression because of childcare responsibilities.
The survey, the first of its kind from the BCC, looks at the perceived impact childcare, general caring responsibilities and menopause have on a person’s career, as well as the support available to those impacted by the issues.
Two-thirds (67%) of female respondents who have had childcare responsibilities in the last 10 years felt they missed out on career progression as a result. This includes career development, pay rises and/or promotions. For male respondents who have had childcare responsibilities, 35% believed they missed out.
Almost two-thirds (62%) of female respondents said they would prefer to take time from paid work for childcare responsibilities, compared to 55% of male respondents.
General caring responsibilities
77% of male respondents believe there is not sufficient support available for people with non-paid caring responsibilities for elderly or disabled relatives or friends. This figure increases to 86% for female respondents.
For those who have had caring responsibilities in the last 10 years, an equal proportion (52%) of males and female respondents felt they missed out on career progression as a result of their duties.
Almost three quarters (74%) of female respondents feel there is not sufficient support for those experiencing menopause.
One in three (34%) female respondents who have gone through menopause felt that it impacted their career negatively.
However, there is a higher level of concern about the impact of menopause on a woman’s career amongst those who are yet to experience it. Almost half (43%) of female respondents believe they will miss out on career opportunities due to menopause.
Levelling Up for Women in the Workplace
The BCC is committed to facing these challenges head on by levelling up for women in the workplace, through an urgent three-year Chamber campaign.
The campaign will be based on a three-point plan, to include:
- Short-term action: convene employment experts, Chamber CEOs and employers to create a Chamber Workplace Equity Commission
- Medium-term work: the commission to analyse research findings and case studies, to develop policies for Government and best practices for businesses enshrining equity in the workplace.
- Long-term goal: re-run the same survey with the aim of moving the dial on the findings we are publishing today.
Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, said: “This survey is the first of its kind carried out by the BCC. With over 4,000 respondents, it is a significant contribution to assessing the state of play of gender equity across society today.
“Many people feel that the burden of childcare, caring responsibilities and menopause have had a negative impact on their career, but women report higher levels of concern across the board.
“What women want is a level playing field. They don’t want handouts or a hand up, they simply want to make sure there are no barriers to career progression and face the same opportunities as their male counterparts.
“Tackling these issues is integral not only to the wellbeing of our women and workplaces, it is crucial to the functioning of any strong economy.”
Sarah Howard MBE, Chair of the BCC, said: “Today is day one of our three-year BCC campaign to face these challenges head on by levelling up for women in the workplace.
‘Priority number one is to immediately form a BCC Workplace Equity Commission with business leaders, employment experts and Chamber CEOs from across our national and international network to analyse the survey findings in detail.
“The commission, led by the BCC, will work with Government to help shape the future of the workplace and will also develop best practices for businesses to adopt.
“Our ultimate goal is to see the dial moving in the right direction when we rerun this same survey again over the course of the next three years.
“A level playing field is not just a nice to have. Gender equity is good for the economy, good for our labour market and good for society as a whole.”