Maternity Discrimination is More Common Than is Recognized. How Can Companies Prevent Inequitable Treatment?

Build Values-Based Cultures, Take a Deep Look at Ethics and Compliance Practices and Openly Build Awareness of the Issues, According to LRN Corporation

NEW YORK, July 31, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Maternity discrimination—that is, unfavorable treatment of pregnant women or mothers in the workplace—is a kind of discrimination that’s rarely talked about but all too common. Case in point: The Equal Opportunity Commission received 3,174 pregnancy discrimination complaints in 2017.

What can companies do to fight this trend? “The answer lies in implementing an ethics and compliance program that offers workplace education that builds awareness of the maternity issue, fosters a values-based workplace culture and fairly assesses whether a company discriminates against pregnant employees,” says Jennifer Farthing, who leads workplace learning and course creation at ethics and compliance firm LRN Corporation.

Building awareness means actively and openly addressing the issues, particularly through workplace education programs. Effective workplace education explores specific behaviors that are discriminatory but may not at first appear so, and examines why the behaviors are problematic and how employees should act instead.

For example, one LRN educational video features a manager passing a pregnant employee up for promotion, claiming that his decision was based on her performance and merit. Only after being probed does he reveal, subtly, that her pregnancy was the deciding factor in his decision. By showing the manager’s reasoning, this video explores common rationalizations for maternity discrimination and shows why they’re faulty and harmful.

Creating a values-based culture means having strong morals embedded in an organization—such as fair treatment of employees and equality across gender lines—which help guide employees and managers away from discriminatory behavior and toward more equitable treatment of their peers and those working under them. In fact, LRN research has found that 89% of the companies with the highest performing ethics and compliance programs communicate organizational values.

Assessing the maternity discrimination problem means evaluating your company’s current practices and identifying potential situations that could foster discrimination or unconscious bias toward employees. This can include risk assessments that include examining your organization’s ethics and compliance policies and company culture.

Says Farthing, “To create positive change and manage risks, workplace education programs that address discrimination are crucial. Building awareness through training and creating an ethos of zero tolerance for discrimination will drive a values-based culture of equality.”

About LRN

Since 1994, LRN has helped over 20 million people at more than 700 companies worldwide simultaneously navigate complex legal and regulatory environments and foster ethical cultures. LRN’s combination of practical tools, education, and strategic advice helps companies translate their values into concrete corporate practices and leadership behaviors that create sustainable competitive advantage. In partnership with LRN, companies need not choose between living principles and maximizing profits, or between enhancing reputation and growing revenue: all are a product of principled performance. As a global company, LRN works with organizations in more than 100 countries and has offices in New York, London, and Mumbai. www.

Devin Tilitz
Sommerfield Communications
(212) 255-8386