Tuesday 30 April 2019 6:21 pm

What women want? Fairness and flexibility at work

Gender inequality across UK businesses remains rife.

According to a recent KPMG survey, more working women than men primarily choose their jobs due to locality and flexibility of working hours.

In an age of tech-enabled agile working, there is no justifiable rationale for these factors to be more of a concern for women than men. And the truth is, if businesses do not evolve with the needs of their workforce, they are likely to be denying themselves access to the best talent pools.

In order to get under the skin of the UK’s talent and diversity issues, we asked 1,500 workers about their attitudes to their job – what motivates them and how they feel about working in the role that they’re in. A third of those we spoke to work in financial services, while the rest work in a range of sectors across the UK.

When we looked at the responses through a gender lens, significant themes emerged around the reasons why individuals chose a particular role.

Almost a third of women said that their main motivation for being in their current job was locality, with only 18 per cent of men saying the same thing.

What’s also interesting is that women are less likely than men to choose a job because they find it interesting, it offers good progression opportunities, or a good salary.

When looking specifically at financial services, double the amount of women than men were likely to rule out a career in financial services because they imagine that it would involve long hours.

This proves that there is a reputational issue here – business leaders within this sector need to rectify this in order to ensure that their workforce remains diverse.

This week is UK Fintech Week, and I’m sure that we will learn about all sorts of potentially mind-bending technology.

With this in mind, I don’t believe it is too much to ask for employers to equip their staff with the tools that they need to work remotely and flexibly.

In doing so, workers would no longer need to consider flexibility as a factor when making a decision about which job to choose. They can instead focus on aspects that will enhance their enjoyment.

Organisations should consider intelligent working, where employees are judged on outputs rather than processes, meaning staff can work wherever and whenever they want, provided that they get the job done.

Alternative hours and flexible contracts can be extremely effective, especially for global organisations that deal with clients in different time zones.

Shared parental leave gives both parents more freedom over their decision making. But companies need to make sure that staff feel empowered to make use of the benefits on offer.

As the make-up of the UK workforce continues to grow and evolve, we know that socially-minded millennials and Gen Z are becoming an increasingly powerful economic force, and will migrate towards employers that clearly demonstrate equality.

Competition among employers is fierce, so making sure that future workers are aware that your organisation offers flexibility and fairness could mean the difference between winning or losing the war for talent.