Kate Winick
(Photo: Instagram/ Kate Winick)

A former social media director for Peloton has spoken out on LinkedIn about the hardships she faced as a pregnant woman after being laid off by the exercise equipment company.

Kate Winick was dismissed by Peloton in April 2023, just as she was five months into her pregnancy, leaving her "terrified" about her future. Despite nearing her due date, she was determined to still look for a new job as she applied for more than 20 vacancies over the following three months.

During the interview process with the various employers, Winick felt it was necessary to disclose her pregnancy before the final stage each time. Her experience of operating in the corporate world, where she absorbed people's attitudes toward pregnant women, led her to assume that her pregnancy could derail and pose a risk to a company.

However, Winick did not need to reveal her pregnancy to potential employers as it was not compulsory. Hiring managers are also unlikely to ask about it, as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggests they do not do so because it can contribute to potential hiring discrimination against pregnant candidates.

Winick was under the impression that her pregnancy would not derail her employment chances as exchanges with male individuals led her to believe that organisations "just want to hire the right people" and are not overly worried about the present as they care to "invest in talent for the long term."

Unfortunately, the ex-Peloton director was fed inaccurate and distorted advice as every one of the employers she interviewed with did not ask her to attend a final interview. Winick found the whole situation baffling as she only planned to take 16 weeks of maternity leave. In her mind, this was not enough to scare every employer from hiring her.

Winnick has learned that the corporate world is not entirely up to speed when treating pregnant women fairly. She stated: "I was incredibly naive to think that in 2024, it was finally possible to become a mom without taking a hit to your career. I know no woman whose trajectory hasn't been affected, temporarily or permanently."

The direct way Winnick's pregnancy threatened her career prospects reflects the "motherhood penalty" which many pregnant women can experience. Victims of this trend often struggle with landing jobs and receiving promotions and pay raises.

Winnick reveals she is determined to make the corporate world treat pregnant women better so that the next generation of female workers does not have to deal with the same setbacks she and many other women have endured.

Research has proven the corporate world frequently fails the career trajectories of pregnant women. Seasoned expert on the topic and Harvard professor Claudia Goldin found America's top female business graduates with children to suffer more setbacks in their careers than their male peers. This includes less working experience, smaller earnings and longer job gaps.

Pregnant women operating in federal roles have slightly more assurance that their situation will not impact their career prospects negatively. This is because it is against the law for employers in the field to turn down a candidate simply because of their pregnancy.

If you are pregnant and job hunting, here are some tips to navigate the process:

  1. Be Transparent, But Know Your Rights: While it's essential to be honest about your pregnancy during the interview process, familiarise yourself with your legal rights regarding discrimination and ensure you're not being unfairly treated based on your pregnancy status.
  2. Highlight Your Value: Focus on showcasing your skills, experience, and qualifications during interviews to demonstrate your value as a candidate, regardless of your pregnancy status.
  3. Consider Remote Opportunities: Explore remote job opportunities that offer flexibility and allow you to work from home, which can be particularly beneficial during pregnancy and after giving birth.
  4. Research Company Culture: Look for companies with inclusive and family-friendly cultures prioritising work-life balance and working parents' support.
  5. Network Strategically: Leverage your professional network to connect with companies and individuals who value diversity and inclusion and may be more open to hiring pregnant candidates.
  6. Prioritise Self-Care: Take care of your physical and mental well-being during the job search process, and don't hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or professionals if needed.