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It remains challenging and potentially risky for a candidate to talk about flexible / agile working

It remains challenging and potentially risky for a candidate to talk about flexible / agile working

Mark.Freed / 16 Jan 2018

The Financial Services sector, particularly in London, was notorious for demanding long hours and for its culture of presenteeism.   Has that changed?  Should London and the leading City banks make more of the agile and flexible working that they now offer?

The stereotypical view of the average City job was that it demanded early starts, late nights and the need to be ‘present’ at all times, accessible via email at all hours of the day. These demands made life difficult, if not impossible, for people with responsibilities outside of work and has been the prime reason many women have given for giving up careers. 

However, these days, a significant proportion of banks expect staff to work more flexibly. Advancements in technology, the need for City institutions to reduce the floor space they occupy and employers’ more flexible approach to working hours means that working from home a few days a week is for many, not the skive it used to be considered, but just part of the routine ‘demanded’ by their employers.  

But there is an advertising gap. Research carried out by Timewise (see attached) shows that as few as 7% of roles are being advertised as flexible. This reflects our own experience: we have had very few roles released to us that are openly agile / flexible. We are often advised that candidates can talk, if they wish, about flexibility and working patterns at interview or on day one.  

It remains challenging and potentially risky for a candidate to talk about flexible / agile working. Firms eager to recruit the best person for the job may be missing the best candidates because they are unwilling to apply for a position that is not advertised as offering flexibility.  So to answer my own question, yes, the Square Mile should showcase the flexibility it offers – they’re at risk of losing the gender dividend if they don’t.

At E2W we are committed to continuing, during 2108, to ask about the flexible and agile arrangements for every role that is released to us.   

Mark Freed is CEO of E2W, the company that he set up with Tina twenty years ago to address the issue of gender diversity.  He is passionate about gender parity and encourages more men to join the campaign.  

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