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Can flexible working improve the gender pay gap?

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One of the biggest barriers to gender equality and pay parity is a continuing resistance by employers to embrace agile working.

A recent joint study from flexible working specialists, Timewise, and Deloitte sets out the following five step plan to help employers establish and implement new working cultures with the aim of improving pay parity between men and women:

  • challenge the status quo: leaders must provoke cultural change
  • emphasise the value of male and female role models: flexible working should be gender neutral
  • ask “why not” rather than “why”: design flexibility into the job
  • provide the permission and tools to support a flexible workforce: influence the attitudes and actions of managers
  • measure the success of flexible working: collect the data

The study, dubbed a “Manifesto for Change, indicates that 30 per cent of workers who work flexibly feel they have less status and importance as a result.  A quarter of 2,000 people felt they missed opportunities to further their career because of this.  By comparison, 73% of respondents wanted their workplaces to reward people for the job they did rather than the number of hours they spent there.

The study identified that barriers to flexible working practices are largely cultural and often come down to the views and behaviours of managers.  Most respondents agreed that companies needed to recruit and train managers who truly support their team achieving a work/life balance, and implement a range of suitable flexible working options.

The clear message from the study was that “Employers need to catch up with the needs and aspirations of the modern workforce, or risk getting left behind.”  Now is the time to review flexible and agile working policies and practices and refresh the message to managers and employees alike that agile working practices are positive and here to stay.