Flexible working – Important to men too

Flexible working isn’t just for caring reasons. There are lots of reasons why people want flexible working patterns and all are just an important to men.

 

An article on the business part of the BBC website caught my eye…

“Senior Jobs With Flexible Hours ‘Get 20% More Female Applicants”

First thought, awesome.

Second thought, I wonder if there’s anything about men? Because I know men want flexible working too.

Hidden away (a bit too much for my liking) was reference to men – “just as important for men”

Argggh, come on BBC I thought! This is a really important angle – the angle that would make a world of difference to gender equality to the workplace.

So I opened LinkedIn and penned this 1300 character post that has got a lot of comments, interaction and views. Click here to join in the conversation.

 

flexible working

POLITE REQUEST

Please can we stop framing flexible working as a female “thing”. The world and his dog knows that women have more caring responsibilities, but until we talk about it being a man thing too, we are doomed to pigeon hole genders into cages called caring and breadwinning.

These cages are traps – traps that keep women from achieving their potential in the workplace and men from being the active and involved fathers they don’t remember growing up.

We need to release that canary.

BBC Business News article today “Senior jobs with flexible hours ‘get 20% more female applicants”

My first thought, well yeah, obviously.

Knowing how hard men find it to ask for flex and part time work – society deem them not to “need” it, fear of being seen as “uncommitted”, perceived optionality etc I wondered if there was anything about men.

Yes – the real story -‘Just as important to men’

“The study… found many more men also applied for roles when they offered flexible working options, suggesting the issue was “just as important” for them.”

This the truly groundbreaking stuff – pre covid!

Men want flexible working and enabling that desire is a key aspect of gender equality at home and at work.

Worth a read: Flexible working so great dads can have a great career

New Title, Same Story?

The eagle eyed among you will have notice the article title is now different. I was also intrigued that the title of the piece changed twice… from

“Senior jobs with flexible hours ‘get 20% more female applicants” to

“Flexible working helps with mum guilt’ to

“It’s really hard to progress when working part-time”

Thankfully the BBC dropped the “mum guilt” angle quickly

flexible working

A Great Story Of Increased Female Recruitment Into Senior Roles

Now despite my little rant, it’s worth noting that it’s a really good story about Zurich creatively increasing female recruitment into senior roles. As John Adams at DadBlogUk explains

“For Zurich to have increased female recruit in senior roles is brilliant. To have increased the number of women working flexibly in senior roles is better still. To have male and female senior managers working flexibly and encouraging other staff to do the same, that’s Zurich’s real success. I hope other employers will follow suit.”

I just wish the man angle had been explored in greater (any) depth.

and I’m not alone as the 100+ comments illustrate

“Totally agree and I thought the same thing when I read the article this morning. The policy is gender neutral so why can’t our thinking be the same?”

“Such an important narrative. I also feel until men are encouraged to take flex working and shared parental leave, women will never truly be able to move forward from this feeling of asking for special treatment, feeling conflicted and that their careers may suffer if they move to flex etc. Flex for all is the only way to truly achieve a sense of equality.”

“Totally agree. From my experience coaching men in organisations, it’s much more difficult for them to ask for flexible working than it is for women. And understandably as they’re more likely to be judged as no longer engaged in their careers. Headlines like this do not help.”

Of course we aren’t JUST talking about flexible working for caring reasons. There are lots of reasons why people want flexible working patterns and all are important. I’m very keen on the idea of #Flexforall.

Don’t miss:  Managing Unconscious Bias Workshops with 3Plus International

What Did Zurich Do?

In addition to using gender neutral language, each job advert between March 2019 and Feb 2020 stated the roles were available as:

“Part-Time, Flexible Hours, Job Share.”

The Outcome

  • “Since changing its policy on job adverts, the number of women hired for top roles has risen by 33%”

  • “20% more likely to apply for senior roles if they offer flexible hours.”

In conclusion, great story – but let’s also keep telling all the stories, in particular the one that shines a light on what men want and stops flexible working from being seen a female only desire. Because that doesn’t help anyone!

 

Don’t let your company slip behind in an inclusive world. Find out how to ‘Create a Bias Conscious Workplace’ with our Lockdown Learning Program

 

Originally posted in Inspiring Dads

Ian Dinwiddy Contributor
Ian has 10 years’ experience working as a Management Consultant specialising in Operational Change. He spent several years combining freelance work with being a primary carer to his children (who are now 9 and 6) including two stints as a “full time” stay at home Dad. He qualified as a coach in March 2017 and outside of work he umpires at the highest levels of domestic field hockey in England. As founder of Inspiring Dads, Ian has created a coaching, mentoring and support programme called the “6 Steps to Working Dad Success.” The programme is designed to help men understand what they truly want and design a work life balance that works for the benefit of their family
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