The case for flexible working from the employee’s perspective is easy to make - when implemented well it can help reduce the work-life conflict they may face, improving their morale and mental health.
And from the employer’s perspective, the business case is clear: better employee well-being and improved talent recruitment and retention will improve your bottom line.
But there is a lesser-known argument for flexible working which senior leaders need to grasp. Flexible working can help address your organisation’s gender pay gap.
The latest ONS figures show that progress in closing the gender pay gap remains painfully slow. And whilst we at CMI know there is no silver bullet that can close the pay gap overnight, there are a range of actions that employers can take to meaningfully address their gender pay gaps and create gender-balanced workplaces. This includes embracing flexible working.
Well-designed flexible working is key to enable women to reconcile work and caring responsibilities. It can enable women to remain in work and stay in roles that reflect their skills, thereby potentially reducing the gender pay gap.
Importantly, offering flexible working in senior positions can enable women who are not available to work what may be considered a standard, full-time week, to progress despite the reduction in hours.
It is important to normalise flexible working by boosting its use in all positions and levels of seniority. This will help to challenge the stereotype of women as carers and may also enable more men to work flexibly, share caring responsibilities more equally with their partners, which can, in turn, support women’s progression.
This is why the CMI and the Government Equalities Office have worked together to prepare this guidance on how to make flexible working work, and at the same time reduce the gender pay gap.
This guidance provides practical steps for both senior leaders and line managers on what each can do right now to drive change within their organisation. The guidance also contains useful statistics and links to a range of online resources, so that whatever level you’re at, you have the information you need to make the case for flexible work within your organisation.
And let’s be clear - managers and leaders need to work together to make flexibly working really work. Without progress on the realities of line management practices and behaviours, the rhetoric of senior leaders will continue to fall flat.