Irish female business leaders take less than 20% of national average maternity leave to preserve career

Leading female executives take a total of 9.6 weeks maternity leave, compared to national average of 52 weeks.

New research which has looked at women’s career progression in Ireland finds that leading C-Level Executives take less than 20% of the national average Maternity Leave.

The research has also shown that while there is parity in terms of salaries for men and women at C-Level, only 26% of C-Level Executives in Ireland are women.

Ardlinn has said that significant changes are needed in workplace practices and maternity/paternity leave legislation in order to support women in achieving and sustaining C-Level status.

The research which was conducted by Ardlinn, found that Ireland’s leading female executives take a total of 9.6 weeks maternity leave throughout their career, compared to the national average of 52 weeks (working on the research statistics of 1.2 v 1.4 children respectively).

According to Áine Brolly, Founder and Director of Ardlinn, the survey highlights that there is an underlying fear that an average period of maternity leave will negatively impact career progression, which is reflected in the disparity of leave between the national average and C-Level Executives.  She claims that while it is hard for women to achieve C-Level status, it is even harder to stay there with the pressures of career versus maternity and family.

While welcoming new Parental Leave legislation proposed within the Oireachtas which would see an extension of the current limit at 18 weeks for every child aged eight and under increase to 26 weeks, Áine has called upon government to get in line with the EU average of 97.8 weeks (the maximum allocation in Ireland is currently 60 weeks) and create an environment where maternity and paternity conditions encourage women to stay in the workforce;

Commenting on the newly published report, Áine said;

“I would strongly advocate an improvement in the conditions through which women, who have recently given birth can access work, and preserve career continuity. A holistic cultural change is required as a means of leveling the playing field and enabling women who wish to have families to flourish, and sustain the positions they’ve worked exceptionally hard to gain.”

Ardlinn’s research supports previous findings which show that 70% of women fear taking a career break, and this is demonstrated in terms of women who have worked tirelessly to get to leading C-Level positions taking such time limited maternity leave in order to maintain their professional career positions.

Áine added;

“Moves to improve conditions for families through the extension of legislation for combined parental leave are to be welcomed. For too long, Ireland has lagged behind the European average.

The traditional roles in Ireland are changing with a greater proportion of females now acting as the top earner within their household, and it’s time this was reflected in wider policy.

Maternity leave should not come down entirely to the decision of protecting your career or your family’s interests. The Parental Leave Bill would provide a means of offsetting career fears, enabling a more collaborative approach for families, but it must go further to ensure a fair deal for ambitious and career driven women. Even with the proposed extension we will still fall short of the EU average.”

The survey, as conducted by Ardlinn is supplemented by international research in this area which highlights that a woman who takes more than 2 years off for maternity loses 18% of her earning power forever.

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