Zurich Insurance, a UK company, has seen a leap in women applying for senior roles after offering all jobs as flexible. A new study reports: 

In a ground-breaking move, last year Zurich became the first company in the UK to advertise all vacancies with the option of part-time, full-time, job share or flexible working…Zurich has seen a 16% rise in women applying for jobs and a near 20% jump in female applications for management roles.

Alongside an increase in applications, the number of women hired for senior roles as a direct result of the initiative has leapt by 33%.

The change has not only encouraged more applications but achieved a near 10% (8%) improvement in the feeling of ‘belonging’ among existing part-time employees across the UK business. 

This is an important change that has long been needed in the workforce. As I highlight in a policy focus on gender quotas for corporate boards, often the reason that women are underrepresented in senior roles in companies is because throughout their careers, they often choose flexibility in order to balance their work lives with their personal responsibilities. 

Because companies are offering more flexible work arrangements, as they have been forced to because of the coronavirus pandemic, women are able to both rise through the ranks of companies while balancing their family and personal obligations. Even men are encouraged to apply with the addition of flexible options to job ads. 

The UK Minister for Women said: 

“The benefits of flexible working have really been emphasised during recent months. 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.” 

U.S. companies should take a page out of Zurich’s book and offer more flexible work options to their employees. For many white collar workers, the pandemic has proven that they can continue to do their jobs from home, despite the additional difficulties brought about by the closure of childcare and schools.

Women want flexibility in their work arrangements and they should be supported in their different career choices and provided the options to flourish in whatever choices they make. Companies should recognize that and provide more options for their employees so that they can ensure equal opportunities for all women, not equal outcomes.