Finding highly capable women is essential if recruiters are to hire the best people and help businesses address the gender diversity challenge. Juliet Turnbull, founder of recruitment site 2to3days, explains how flexible working is the key to unlocking gender diversity in the workplace – and why it makes business sense.
Flexible working is always a hot topic. While some are sold on the benefits, others grudgingly do the statutory minimum – seeing flexibility as an occasional necessary evil, not a smart strategy. Yet organisations are under pressure to recruit experienced women to senior roles and address historical gender imbalances. Increasingly, forward-thinking businesses realise flexibility is a way to boost productivity for all and attract the senior women missing from their organisations.
There is clearly an exodus from the workplace when women become mothers, with many not able to return to their previous careers and achieve new goals. We know that’s not always for want of trying. The mothers 2to3days works with are looking for roles that can fulfil their working ambitions and they are valuable assets, repaying flexibility with high levels of experience and productivity.
Flexibility is certainly the key to attracting them – more than 80% of mothers would choose flexibility over a pay rise. This doesn’t have to mean unpleasant compromise for an organisation. There are genuine business benefits to flexibility, beyond accessing this hidden talent pool.
Research shows that flexibility increases profitability. In a 2017 HSBC study, 83% of companies who adopted flexible working saw an increase in profits. It also saves on staffing costs and enables organisations to afford more senior people – the value of an experienced part-time mother can far outweigh the benefits of employing a full-time junior with little experience and high training needs.
Productivity is another win when it comes to flexible working. Studies show that flexibility is a real motivator for employees. It’s not surprising then that it engenders loyalty, improving retention and lowering absenteeism by enabling teams to work the way that suits them.
Gender pay gap reporting is further thrusting the issue of gender disparity into the spotlight. In 2016 the UK government set a target of seeing 33% of FTSE 350 leadership roles filled by women by 2020. According to the Hampton Alexander Review, published in 2017, around 40% of executive appointments need to go to women if that is going to be achieved. Businesses offering flexible options are best-placed to recruit the senior women they need to achieve this goal.
There is no ‘one-size fits all’ to flexibility. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and with so many variations there is something to suit all businesses and people. That might be a full-time role spread over 12 months with August off, term time working, five shorter days, staggered working hours, job share or working from home – to name only a few possibilities.
Organisations should feel confident designing roles to suit their needs, instead of defaulting to full-time as standard. This is especially true given that technology has made it possible to work anywhere at any time, freeing employers to design roles that truly work for their business and their people.
With these benefits at the forefront, 2to3days is a social and economic movement comprising progressive leaders and highly capable mothers. Our aim is to help close the void between business and motherhood by championing mothers’ career progression through flexible working. We do this by harnessing the ‘Power of the Hood’ – our online community of 28,000 mothers and employers who spread the word and share opportunities in their own networks. As a result, adverts on 2to3days generate an average of 12 applications each, and 70% of our clients hire one of our mothers - without the need for recruitment company fees.
Our mothers aren’t defined by the fact that they’ve had children. They’re skilled, experienced and highly motivated to succeed in the workplace. The figures back this up: 89% have 10+ years’ experience and they are highly educated: 82% to degree level or higher, while 34% have a masters, 65% are in management and 22% in senior management or board level roles.
2to3days has tapped into demand for change and employers such as Nationwide, KPMG and Shell are already experiencing success with us, finding the people they need to push their businesses forward. We are delighted to have enabled Broadbean technology on our platform, making it easier than ever for recruiters and employers to access this pool of talented women.
Find out how to recruit with 2to3days