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Classified in: Business, Covid-19 virus
Subjects: SVY, WOM

New Study Reveals Women Experience Less Flexibility at Work Than Male Counterparts, Impeding Workplace Success

"I worried that I would struggle to find enough hours in the day to effectively care for my son and perform my job well."

NEW YORK, Sept. 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- As companies continue to recover from the jarring aftershocks of COVID-19, one pandemic-era workplace "trend" shows no signs of slowing: flexible work is here to stay. The power of true flexibility impacts organizations and individuals in many ways, affecting everything from retention to productivity, particularly for working women.

Recognizing that flexibility is a non-negotiable leading to a more effective, more purposeful way of working, Werklabs, the research and insights division of The Mom Project, delved into the gendered differences in men's and women's a) need for flexibility and b) experience of flexibility in the workplace, surveying more than 1,700 full- and part-time workers to gather data.

Understanding these experiences acknowledges, firstly, that flexibility is much more than the option to choose the location one works from; true flexibility includes key traits such as the autonomy to get the job done on one's own terms and flexible working hours during the day and across the work week, among others. With these cultural factors in place, employees scored 28% higher in terms of their retention and 20% higher in terms of their anticipated productivity.

Clear demographic differences arose when looking at the differences between male and female respondents. On the whole, women expressed a higher need for flexible hours and days of work, owing to needs such as attending to family appointments, picking up children from school, and being able to respond to last minute needs as the primary caretakers as needed.   Women are significantly more likely than their male counterparts to view themselves as the primary caregiver in their families, from the birth of children through to the care of elderly and sick relatives.

Relatedly, when it comes to managerial support leading to more flexible cultures, for men, their relationship with their managers is critical to their assessment of work flexibility. For women, managerial support for flexibility is helpful but not enough, as many are reluctant to be perceived as receiving special treatment or less committed to their careers. True flexibility, rather than prescribed flexible "benefits," need to be baked into the DNA of an organization. As one interviewed participant shared: "While we now work in a hybrid model, I have to request and explain why I need to only work two days in office even though I'm willing to work four days...the following week. There is rigidity in what is supposed to be a hybrid work arrangement."

Adds Dr. Pam Cohen, head of Werklabs: "The reluctance of women to take advantage of flexibility in the workplaces or advocate for their needs reflects long-standing biases against working women, particularly working mothers. We know that there is an unstated 'motherhood penalty' wherein working moms often earn lower starting salaries, or are perceived as less invested in their work during pregnancy or after giving birth. This study highlights the incredible importance of corporate cultures and managers truly understanding the needs of working moms and actively giving women permission to exercise flexibility so they can bring their fullest selves to work, and contribute to closing the gender pay gap."

The full Werklabs report, "The Flexibility Advantage," can be found here.

About The Mom Project

The Mom Project is the leading platform for moms to discover their economic potential. Serving over 650,000 moms and 3,000 companies through its robust suite of hiring, education and retention solutions, The Mom Project is supporting mothers in finding success on their own terms. The Chicago-based company was founded in 2016 by Allison Robinson, who serves as CEO, and has raised $116M in funding to date. Serena Williams joined The Mom Project as a Strategic Advisor in 2020 to further mobilize the mission.

About WerkLabs

Werklabs, the research division of The Mom Project, offers custom research to yield prescriptive insights and support for corporate leaders on important workplace topics including employee experience and engagement, DE&I, workplace flexibility, family friendly practices, benefits, and policy advisory. Led by Dr. Pam Cohen, PhD, Werklabs integrates qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to yield findings from employee perspectives. In addition to its advisory services, Werklabs also contributes regular thought leadership on a variety of understudied workplace topics to drive meaningful change and conversations within businesses today.

Related Links

SOURCE The Mom Project

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