Am I surprised to learn that working mums earn less after having a baby? No – just surprised that it’s taken this long for a fuss to be made. It’s been a taboo subject for many years, with women having to quietly accept lesser roles and responsibilities and a pay cut to match, fearful that complaining would jeopardise their future. However much companies claim to be supportive of working mothers, according to maternitycover.com, more than 68% of new mums claim to earn less than before giving birth.

Work-life balance is a zero sum game, as employers make the assumption that mothers cannot be equally committed to their family and their work – so working mums suffer from ‘discounted value’. This is as ludicrous as it is unfair. Working mothers are way more focussed and organised once they return to work – in fact, 73% of women say they are better employees as a result of becoming a mum. Having advised and encouraged hundreds of women facing this situation to continue working flexibly, here is the best way to approach it.

  1. Your career is a series of jobs and is based on evolution, so the key is to keep going and doing some work – even if it’s not the best-paid work – in order to have a continuous work journey.
  2. Changing direction and being creative with your choices is important – versatility and adaptability are vital characteristics in today’s labour market.
  3. Last but not least – ‘value’ yourself and ask for what you think you are worth. This is an exercise that should be done regularly so that you can throw into the pot the qualities you bring, as well as your particular demands, in order to make an informed next career move.

Yes we can be dismayed, but we also need to be pragmatic until the day employers wake up and notice the true value of the working mothers they employ. It is surely only a matter of time.

About the author


dana denis-smith

Dana Denis-Smith is an entrepreneur, former Linklaters solicitor and international journalist who lives in London, UK. In 2010, she founded Obelisk Legal Support Solutions (Obelisk Support–https://obelisksupport.com/), a London-based alternative legal services company built around flexible, highly-skilled professionals. Aware that the legal profession is far behind its times in terms of gender diversity, she initiated the First 100 Years project (https://first100years.org.uk/) to celebrate the journey of women in the legal profession in the United Kingdom over the past 100 years and this project will celebrate the centenary of women in law in 2019. In 2018, Obelisk’s founder Dana Denis-Smith was voted Legal Personality of the Year at the LexisNexis Awards 2018 and Obelisk Support joined the top tier of two prestigious lists, the FT1000 Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies and Inc. 5000 List of Europe’s Fastest-Growing Companies. In 2017, Dana also won the WEConnect International Best Mentor and Role Model Award and delivered a TEDx talk on how to be remembered (based on her observations of the legal profession). In 2016, she was voted one of Britain’s five most inspiring mothers for juggling up a new business creation with family life, as she chooses to work flexibly in order to spend quality time with her young daughter.