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March 8, 2018

This report is inspired by an article brought to my attention by Lisa Raitt (@lraitt on Twitter), which was published February 22, 2018, in the Harvard Business Review, written by Kate Weisshaar, “Stay-at-Home Moms Are Half as Likely to Get a Job Interview as Moms Who Got Laid Off.

This recent study concludes that employers have a distinctly negative bias against applicants who have taken a break from work for reasons associated with staying home with their children. This is in contrast to applicants who have similar breaks in employment for other reasons.

A sample size of approximately 3400 resumes was broken into employed, unemployed, and stay at home parent applicants; 15.3% of employed applicants received a callback, 9.7% of unemployed applicants received a callback, and only 4.9% of stay-at-home parents received a callback.

In another aspect of the study, qualitative research was undertaken to understand recruiters’ perceptions when assessing resumes from the three applicant types.

Respondents considered the stay-at-home parents to be less reliable, less deserving of a job, less committed to work, and this response was reasonably normalized between the gender of the applicant (in this case, the state home parent).

It comes down to an old and unfavourable attitude among certain employers.

For them, stay-at-home parents broke the cardinal rule. They got a life.

In that command and control environment, it terrifies certain managers that families be prioritized overwork. If work isn’t everything, then ethics & values might also be factors when executing instructions. Sounds noisy and inefficient to some.

In truth, this is about sustainable business practices (and, I am not a “social license” advocate, but I am absolutely an ethical and sustainable business practice advocate) and about considering gender impact on business recruiting behaviours.

Think globally and act locally, isn’t that what “they” say?

For recruiters or third-party recruiters, consider whether you or your firm’s behaviour is perpetuating this belief system because you focus on telling your client what you think they want to hear to secure more business. The best recruitment journey for me is where I have been challenged and counselled by the recruitment/executive search representative.

HR needs to push-back on old ideas like this and we need to continue to move the watermark in the right direction.

For executives, consider the approach of one of my past VPS. Not only did he encourage me to hire returning stay-at-home parents, but he also insisted I credit time at home as experience within the person’s profession for job-classifying the individual. Wow, and talk about success: commitment, attitude, effort, maturity and retention.

Happy journey  and respectfully yours,

Sam Kemble

Director – Workforce Delivery and Labour Relations