New research from Swiss company Zurich Insurance suggests that offering part time jobs and other flexible work options could increase womens’ applications for senior roles by a massive 20 per cent.

Over a period of 12 months ending in February this year, Zurich offered 4 out of every 5 of their vacancies with an option of part time work or other flexible work practices such as job sharing.

The insurer also made use of gender-neutral language in their job ads and found that women applied for the flexible options across all of their vacancies at an increased rate of 16 per cent.

For senior positions, such as managerial roles, the figure was even higher, with a 20 per cent increase in applications.

The Zurich research, commissioned by the UK government, backs up other research from 2018 which revealed that 4 in 5 UK women considered a part time job to be a more attractive option than full time positions.

Baroness Berridge, the UK’s Minister for Women, welcomed the news from the insurer, saying: “We want to see more employers embracing practices such as working from home and returners programmes, which can have a positive impact for both men and women.”

“Zurich’s work in this space has proven how effective a simple change to a job advert can be for workplace equality. It is vital that more employers take this on board as we seek to increase opportunities for everyone in this country,” added the Baroness.

Head of Human Resources at Zurich Insurance, Steve Collinson, said: “Flexible working can help tackle diversity and inclusion issues we’ve all been battling with for many years. Embracing part-time and flexible work is not a silver bullet. But we’ve seen hugely encouraging results, simply by adding six words to our job adverts.”

“By offering roles that fit flexibly around family life, employers could open the floodgates to a much wider pool of untapped talent. This will also help women progress into higher paid jobs whilst fitting other commitments around their careers. Workers want a new deal and there’s a danger that businesses that don’t get on board, won’t be able to compete for the best and brightest minds.”

“Moreover, women who need flexible working arrangements, such as part-time work, may struggle to progress into more senior roles within their organisation. As a result, some decide to leave the labour market, while others get ‘stuck’, due to a lack of opportunities to apply for flexible roles,” added Mr Collinson.

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