Two-thirds of women returning to work from a career break have to go into lower-skilled jobs, or work fewer hours than they would like.
According to research by PwC, Women Returners and 30% Club, 427,000 female UK professionals are estimated to be on a career break. Of those, three in five (around 249,000 women) are likely to enter lower skilled roles, leading to an immediate 12-32% reduction in hourly earnings.
A further 29,000 women returning to part-time work would prefer to work long hours but are unable due to a lack of flexible hours.
Brenda Trenowden, global chair of 30% Club said: “Recruiters and employers need to do more to reassess how they evaluate a candidate’s potential and work to address the negative bias towards CV gaps. Getting more senior women back into the workplace will help businesses build stronger pipelines of potential female leaders and improve the diversity of businesses at senior levels.
“Returnships create an effective route back to mid-to senior-level professional roles, and the availability of part-time and flexible opportunities in professional roles helps widen the pool of talent businesses can access.”
An occupational downgrade could have a significant personal economic effect on many women. PwC has estimated that by allowing returning female employees to work to their full potential could boost their combined annual earning by £637million.
Increasing the hours worked by those forced into part time roles, could boost earnings to this group by £423million. Taken together, returning women are missing out on £1.1billion a year, equivalent to £4,000 for each woman.
The research estimates that the multiplier effect from the increased and spending power of these women could drive a further increase in output in the UK economy of £1.7billion.
Laura Hinton, executive board member and head of people at PwC said: “The business and economic arguments for getting more women back into high quality work following a career break are compelling.
“Our research shows the UK economy could see a £1.7billion boost, women will get higher earnings and businesses will benefit from a stronger pipeline of female leaders and more diverse teams. Many women want to return, it is the system that needs to change.”