A report out today in the Economic Journal paints a bleak picture for women managers who want to work flexibly. But things are changing, argues WorkingMums’ web editor Mandy Garner
It makes depressing reading. A third of women managers take low paid, low status part-time jobs to get the flexibility they need, according to a report published in the Economic Journal. But does it have to be that way? In WorkingMums’ experience there are many employers who realise the business case for promoting flexible working. With women accounting now for the majority of university graduates and likely to continue to do so for the next years, it makes total economic sense for employers not to waste their talents and allow them to disappear from the jobs they are good at just for the want of a little flexibility, particularly in the early years. The rewards are immense: happy, committed employees and the retention of experienced staff. There may also be additional benefits – the ability to offer round-the-clock service to clients, for instance, and lower sickness rates.
Neither, though, are they going to lie down and take being demoted to lower paid jobs to achieve a manageable work life balance. Particularly when having to juggle all the demands of home and work life – and it is still the women who take on the vast majority of home demands [how many men at work spend their lunch hour organising holiday cover?] – means that they are constantly improving much sought after skills – organisation, prioritisation, time management, to name just a few. This survey paints a bleak picture. The truth is not so hopeless in most professions and women need to push at employers’ doors more to make the case for flexible working being a no brainer. They might find the door is ajar anyway. Things are changing and if you don’t ask, you don’t get.