The latest in our series of webinars was an interview with Sarah Jackson, OBE, on how implementing hybrid working can help drive greater equity and gender parity. The full interview is available to download here.
Sarah is a leading authority on work-life issues in the UK and, following 25 years as CEO of work-life charity Working Families, now concentrates on writing, speaking and thinking about gender equality and family-friendly approaches to work. She is currently Visiting Professor at Cranfield University School of Management.
Sarah summarised current research and highlighted that, at the moment, there’s no difference between genders in the demand for some form of hybrid working.
Sarah’s definition of flexible working is that employers allow some form of variation in where, when and for how long the work is done. This is important in attracting women to open roles and organisations that offer some form of flexibility will have a definite advantage.
Sarah sees the need for rapidly reskilling as one of three key requirements in supporting women to return to the workforce after a career break, furlough or dropping out of the workforce during the pandemic. She comments on how our latest skilling and career development solutions can provide a platform to enable that.
New research from the CIPD also highlights how less than half of all organisations have a workforce planning strategy based on good skills data about what’s needed now and in the future.
Sarah goes on to talk about how encouraged she is to see the mindset shift that’s taken place over the course of the pandemic – both amongst employers and employees – that flexible working is now seen as the norm. When implemented thoughtfully, it can really enable fairer and more equitable working arrangements for women.
Another danger, though, is that women working remotely or more flexibly than men miss out on opportunities for career progression. Organisations need to find ways of being fully transparent with all the development opportunities available – from new project teams forming to short-term assignments and permanent internal moves.
One solution to this is to evolve an internal jobs board into a full talent marketplace. These have been shown to positively impact diversity, equity and inclusion and remove any bias that might stem from office workers (who are more likely to be men) being favoured for internal moves.
In closing our interview, Sarah offers five benefits to be gained by organisations that embrace flexible working. She then goes on to answer questions about how to get senior leaders to change their attitudes to flexible working, how to minimise the adverse impact on women’s mental health of balancing work and care, and how young women entering the workforce can best navigate their options for flexible working with bosses.
You can download the full interview, along with Sarah’s suggested protocols for implementing flexible working, by clicking the button below.