50% of British adults think women receive fewer opportunities at work after returning from maternity leave

FM News RICS Maternity

A YouGov survey commissioned by RICS has found that gender discrimination seems to culminate when women take a career break to have a family.


Half of British adults believe that women receive fewer opportunities, like promotion or pay rises at work, after returning from maternity leave than men in similar job roles.

This sentiment is particularly prominent amongst women, with nearly two thirds (61%) believing there is less opportunity for progression for mothers returning to work.

Findings in brief:


  • 50% of British people believe women receive fewer opportunities after returning from maternity leave.
  • 20% of the British workforce disagree that their CEO actively strives for gender equality and supports initiatives in the workplace.
  • 48% of British adults said they would be “much happier” at work if their employer offered a more flexible working arrangement

Changing perceptions


The perception that women are at a disadvantage appears to be ingrained from a young age, with nearly 42% of 13–22-year-old females saying that they will be paid less than male doing the same job. Conversely, only 3% of males of the same age think their gender will negatively affect their salary. Indeed, these young men are already aware of the gender pay gap, with 20% believing they will earn more than women.

Professor Fiona Grant, Chair of RICS UK and Ireland Board said:

“International Women’s Day is all about inspiring women. When we looked at the findings, significantly, 25% of young women surveyed believe they would have more career success under a female CEO, highlighting the importance of female role models in senior corporate positions.

We recognise the importance of mentors and have recently set up a global mentoring partnership with female Chartered Surveyors in the UK and South Africa to share insights between a network of women in the industry.

Businesses need to listen to the next generation of leaders, who are actively seeking a diverse and flexible working environment. When choosing a job role, 21% of young people believe the most important factor is whether an organisation has a diverse range of employees. Furthermore, 73% of young people believe it is important that CEOs encourage gender diversity across their business.”


With 64% of the working population identifying as working for organisations led by males, and 20% saying they disagree their CEO actively strives for greater gender diversity or supports and champions gender equality initiatives and policies in the workplace, the survey highlights the need for more to be done at senior level to drive cultural change and empower women.


Sean Tompkins, RICS Chief Executive, commented:

“Introducing family-friendly policies, such as flexible working hours, could help tackle gender equality and support women returning to work. 48% of British workers surveyed said they would be “much happier” at work if their employer offered a more flexible working arrangement.

Last year, we made a pledge to lead the way on diversity. Our commitments included a pledge by our senior leadership to question speaking on any conference panel that isn’t diverse to help showcase and promote women in our industry and to inspire a new next generation.”


Inclusive Employer Quality Mark (IEQM)


To tackle diversity issues faced in our industry and to set an example to others, we have created the Inclusive Employer Quality Mark. This scheme aims to make the land, property and construction sector more inclusive and diverse, giving those who sign up a competitive advantage.

We will also host a major Diversity and Inclusion Conference in London this June, examining how the industry attracts, nurtures and retains the brightest and best talent regardless of gender, social background, beliefs or disability.

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