Author: Nicolette Botbol
A new way of flexible working needs to be encouraged across the workplace, argues Nicolette Botbol, who works in the asset management industry.
Being a mum of an active two-year old boy, and expecting a second child later this year, I’m at the stage in my life where my family commitments are demanding more of my time. This has led me to reflect on the importance of enjoying a fruitful career, whilst ensuring that my new family and general health and happiness is not compromised.
Reflecting on my personal circumstances led me to think about the importance and benefit of supporting women to develop in the workplace. This feeds into the debate around how diverse businesses lead to better decisions. Alienating good people (and importantly women and parents) from the workforce is not good for business. Experts will argue that flexible working also means happier, healthier and higher performing employees – ultimately a more productive workforce.
A study by consultancy Mercer, found that in the US, employee stress is costing employers over $250 billion in lost time alone. Embracing flexible working could also come with significant benefits to the economy and to society. A survey by recruitment consultancy Feel has found that working mothers in Britain are presently losing out on £1.3 trillion in earnings as a result of inflexible business cultures. The survey also found that more than half the mothers in the UK revealed that they had left or changed jobs due to family commitments, with the majority of these jobs no longer putting their educational background to use, suggesting a huge waste of talent on top of the loss of income. Furthermore, family-friendly policies introduced by Nordic countries over the past 50 years and associated increases in female employment have boosted growth in GDP per capita by between 10% and 20%, according to an OECD report.
There are more and more initiatives that are bringing the issue of women in the workforce to the fore, in particular, gender pay gap reporting, which requires companies to publish the pay gap between their male and female employees, as well as the Hampton Alexander Review and 30% Club, with the latter campaigning for greater representation of women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies. It’s encouraging to see progress in developing and supporting women in employment which has been helped by the initiatives I mention, however, there is still a lot more to be done.
This is a societal problem and there is no quick fix, but a shift in mind-set needs to happen. I don’t have the magic answer to this problem, but what I do believe is that a new way of working needs to be encouraged and new opportunities that enable employees, whether they are parents or not, to have the option to work flexibly.