Flexible working must not just focus on female talent

diverse workplace

Organisations must proactively encourage a culture of flexibility across the entire workforce, or risk negatively impacting employee engagement levels and the ability to attract and retain top talent.

The call comes in response to a report from the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee, Fathers in the Workplace, which recommends that all new jobs should be advertised as flexible to reflect societal change.

The paper reports that fathers are even more likely than mothers to perceive that they will be viewed negatively by employers if they request to work flexibly, and that women with dependants are over three-and-a-half times as likely to report working part-time as men with dependants.

The report also highlights that while 96 per cent of employers say they offer a level of agile working, research by the Timewise Foundation has found that only 9.8 per cent of ‘quality job vacancies’ – that is, jobs paying over £20,000 full-time equivalent – are advertised as being open to some kind of flexibility.

The right to work flexibly should not be viewed as the preserve of females with young families or individuals in lower skilled roles

In response to the findings, Paul Modley, Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Alexander Mann Solutions who commissioned the report, comments: “While the recommendations in this report are designed with fathers in mind, the benefits of promoting working options which appeal to a wider pool of available talent should not be underestimated.”

“The CBI’s advice to the committee – that is, if a company feels a job can be done flexibly, it should advertise it in that way from the start – is a strategy that we at Alexander Mann Solutions have long promoted. As Timewise’s data shows, the majority of businesses are, in theory, happy to consider role flexibility if it means that they are able to access the skills they need. However, the fact that this is not reflected in legacy-laden recruitment processes means that jobseekers may not even consider a role unless a flexible working culture is celebrated and promoted at the earliest stage of the recruitment process. The best person for the job may never apply.”

“The right to work flexibly should not be viewed as the preserve of females with young families or individuals in lower skilled roles. Society on the whole and expectations of employees are changing. Regardless of age, gender or level of seniority, individuals are increasingly seeking to work in a way which fits with their wider lifestyle and commitments. Employers who fail to respond to this desire risk missing out on the skills and experience of a huge proportion of the working population.”