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The status quo has to be challenged continuously in order to prevent employers falling back to default rigid styles of working, according to a Workingmums.co.uk white paper.
The white paper, Unlocking the female pipeline, is based on a recent roundtable event, held by Workingmums.co.uk and hosted by Lloyds Banking Group, which looked at latest thinking on flexible working, family support and women’s career progression.
Nineteen of the UK’s largest employers – from WH Smith and Sky to Virgin Trains and Vodafone – took part in the roundtable, exchanging views about their successes and the challenges they still face with embedding culture change.
They highlighted a range of issues, including the need for positive role modelling of flexible working by senior managers, ensuring flexible recruiting practice and focusing on job design to ensure workloads and expectations are manageable. Apart from a need to support and bring line managers on board, for instance, through trialling flexible working in one area to demonstrate the advantages to more reluctant leaders, there was also discussion of how to make sure remote workers feel less isolated.
The roundtable also debated the importance of including men in all family support initiatives, spreading good practice on Shared Parental Leave and job shares, sustaining unconscious bias programmes, tackling recruiter bias to ensure more women were on shortlists and helping women build a network of sponsors who could advocate on their behalf about promotion opportunities.
There was an emphasis on how a truly inclusive culture needs to taken into account the fact that there is not one set career path and that people may seek to advance their careers at different times in their working lives. Employers’ willingness to share best practice and challenges around these issues demonstrated their clear commitment to make progress on these key talent attraction and retention issues.