Offering senior part-time roles boosts applications for women and men

A study by insurance firm Zurich shows a significant boost in applications from women and men when senior jobs are advertised as part time and an increase of 33% in women hired to those roles.

Woman waiting for job interview


Advertising senior flexible jobs could boost applications from women for top jobs by as much as 20%, according to a new study.

The study by insurance company Zurich is based on its move last year to advertise all vacancies with the option of part-time hours, full-time hours, job share or flexible working.

The company has combined this with the use of gender-neutral language in every job advertisement and says this has brought a 16% rise in women applying for jobs and a near 20% increase in female applications for management roles.

Moreover, the number of women hired for senior roles as a direct result of the initiative has leapt by 33%, says Zurich.

The findings form part of a wider study commissioned by the government and carried out by the Behavioural Insights Team to identify issues that were blocking career progression for women. The research highlighted a lack of applications from women for senior roles.  Many of these roles have not previously been available on a part-time or flexible basis and female employees reported that this lack of apparent flexibility was making them less likely to apply.

Between March 2019 and February this year, Zurich advertised four out of five vacancies using the new part-time wording.  These are all the jobs that the business deemed viable to carry out under more flexible working terms. Across the board, the adverts attracted more than double the number of applications from both males and females for every role. Zurich says this could indicate that flexible working options are just as important to men as they are to women.

The change also achieved a near 10% (8%) improvement in the feeling of ‘belonging’ among existing part-time employees across the UK business, says Zurich.

Steve Collinson, Zurich’s Head of HR, said: Flexible working can help tackle diversity and inclusion issues we’ve all been battling with for many years.  Embracing part-time and flexible work is not a silver bullet.  But we’ve seen hugely encouraging results, simply by adding six words to our job adverts.  By offering roles that fit flexibly around family life, employers could open the floodgates to a much wider pool of untapped talent. This will also help women progress into higher paid jobs whilst fitting other commitments around their careers.  Workers want a new deal and there’s a danger that businesses that don’t get on board, won’t be able to compete for the best and brightest minds.

Minister for Women, Baroness Berridge, added: The benefits of flexible working have really been emphasised during recent months. We want to see more employers embracing practices such as working from home and returners programmes, which can have a positive impact for both men and women.

“Zurich’s work in this space has proven how effective a simple change to a job advert can be for workplace equality. It is vital that more employers take this on board as we seek to increase opportunities for everyone in this country.”

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