A survey of over 2,300 working mothers has found that nearly half of those polled believe that flexible working has affected their career progression.
The research also reveals that mums feel flexible working is vital for them to manage work and family life. In fact 60% of those who work flexibly would like more flexibility, such as more home working or more use of job shares, and 73% believe flexible working and flexi opportunities in senior roles are key to career progression.
The lack of availability of senior flexible roles means many women have had to take pay cuts to get flexibility – 44% say they earn less than before they had children with just 27% earning more. The lack of women in senior positions in organisations is also a key contributor to the gender pay gap.
Far from the stereotype that flexible workers are less committed, 67% of mums feel they have to work harder because of unconscious bias in the workplace. And, 51% are worried that flexible working will be taken away from them.
The survey also shows that many employers are losing experienced women because they cannot accommodate their flexible working requests.
Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk, says: “There is a clear link between the availability of flexible working, women’s career progression and the gender pay gap. Too many women are not achieving their potential because organisations just don’t understand the benefits all round of creating good flexible working opportunities. That is a waste of their skills and a loss to employers.
“It is not enough to retain women after maternity leave or attract them back through returner programmes. The culture has to be sufficient to enable them to stay. It is not just women, either. Growing numbers of dads are feeling frustrated at the strait jacket of 9 to 5 and want more input into family life. A work culture that does not recognise that the majority of employees have or will have families is not a culture that is fit for the future.”