Paustian-Underdahl, Samantha C., Little, Laura M., Mandeville, Ashley M., Hinojosa, Amanda S. , Keyes, Andrew, "Examining the role of maternity benefit comparisons and pregnancy discrimination in women's turnover decisions," Personnel Psychology, Summer2024, Vol. 77 Issue 2, p819-846

Retaining pregnant women and mothers is a prevalent challenge for companies in the United States. In this paper, we highlight the importance of favorable maternity benefits. Specifically, we argue that maternity benefits can signal how pregnant workers are treated within the organization, particularly as women compare their own benefits to referent others’. Drawing from identity threat response theory, we propose a conceptual framework that explains the influence of maternity benefit comparisons on perceptions of discrimination and, subsequently, turnover. Upon evaluating two studies using multi-wave survey data and two vignette studies, our results indicate that when women perceive their maternity benefits to be less favorable than referent others’ benefits, they perceive more pregnancy discrimination. In turn, perceptions of pregnancy discrimination influence their subsequent turnover decisions. Consistent with identity threat response theory, our results also suggest that perceived supervisor support is a significant moderator, weakening the impact of maternity benefit comparisons on perceptions of pregnancy discrimination.