“I AM PREGNANT and I GOT HIRED,” Anna Franziska Hunger’s LinkedIn post begins, and judging by the post’s popularity, it’s touched a nerve. Discrimination against expecting mothers has been illegal since 1978, but disclosing a pregnancy to potential employers can seem daunting. Moms looking to make a career move while pregnant can feel like they’re up against an employer’s possible reluctance to provide immediate paid maternity leave, the perception of pending new baby distractions from the work you’ve been hired to do, and HR’s pressure to fill roles.
Noting that being a pregnant new hire “seemed like an oxymoron,” Hunger said she “was terrified of breaking the news throughout the interviews…and several times got the ‘well intended’ advice to hide my pregnancy until signing.” According to the United States Department of Labor, women make up nearly 50% of the workforce, and 85% of working women will become mothers during their careers. Yet statistics show that in the last 10 years, more than 50,000 pregnancy discrimination claims were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Fair Employment Practices Agencies in the United States.
Other working moms commented on Hunger’s LinkedIn post to share their own experiences. “SO HAPPY that things are changing for young women…21 years ago I didn’t want to tell my boss that I was pregnant with #4. When I finally told her she said I had no business working with 4 children. I was crushed,” wrote one responder. Another commented that “My wife was ghosted by so many companies and recruiters once she disclosed she was pregnant.” But there was good news in the mix, too.
“What a wonderful story…I too just started a new job pregnant and also chose to be upfront with the leadership team during the interview process. I was understandably nervous to share my news but when I did, the response from the CEO and Chairman was extremely positive and supportive,” wrote one mom, adding “Based on that reaction, I knew that this was a company where a working mother could thrive in.”
For Hunger, the decision to be upfront about her pregnancy during the interview process came down to one very important thing: her daughter. “I decided not to compromise and tell the truth, 6 months pregnant (again),” she says. “I want to be a role model to my daughter and work for a company that values and empowers working mums that juggle two toddlers.”