Why is Flexible Work Policy a Lifesaver for Women’s Career? Because women are expected to take a backseat from their career when they have kids to take care of. Because having a baby has a disproportional impact on the professional life of a woman compared to a man. And because is it always that the woman immolates her dreams for the sake of growing a family…
It is a daunting situation for females across the globe to choose between their professional career and family, especially after childbirth. While some women are fortunate enough to have a support system, others are left with the only choice to depart from their professional dreams.
There has been an accelerating focus on educating girls in most economies of the world, and females are breaking the social prejudices and entering the commercial and financial universe. Although significantly under-represented, women have positions across all sectors of society. Despite this progress, most females face the fear of quitting their jobs at a certain point in time, especially to look after their kids, since it becomes strenuous to juggle between career and family life.
According to Pew Research 2015, mothers experience more career interruptions than fathers. Nearly 42% of the mothers have reduced employed hours compared to 28% fathers, in order to care for a child or a family member. Similarly, 39% of mothers took a significant time off compared to 24% of fathers. Moreover, 27% of mothers had to leave their job, while a mere 10% of fathers had to face job discontinuity.
Not only women are facing gender bias on the job front, but worse there has been bigotry with respect to earnings. Unfortunately, the gender pay gap in the U.S. has not really improved over the past 15 years. According to Pew Research, women earned 84% of what men earned in 2020 (for both full- and part-time workers). According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, women and men advance in their careers and compensation in a similar fashion, until their first baby is born. However, post-childbirth, the gender pay gap significantly widens, owing to what is termed as “child penalty” or “motherhood penalty”.
The coronavirus pandemic has even worsened the situation for working mothers and they primarily are bearing the brunt of its impact. Managing jobs along with childcare responsibility and domestic chores are taking a heavy toll on women’s overall health.
The shutdown of schools and daycare centers around the world, during the lockdowns, made it harder for parents, especially women. As a result, more women have lost their jobs than men. As per the report, ‘COVID-19 and Gender Equality, from McKinsey Global Institute, “female job loss rates due to COVID-19 are about 1.8 times higher than male job loss rates globally, at 5.7% vs. 3.1% respectively.”
Is there any way to address this situation? Can there be any system to provide a favorable working environment to professional mothers who are bearing child responsibility?
Yes, of course!! A flexible work policy is a lifesaver for women’s careers. Flexi work policies such as ‘Work from Home’ can be a big solution for employed mothers.
Is Flexible Work Policy on the rise?
Many organizations have started embracing the Flexi working arrangements for professional moms, however, there still does not exist any universal policy. According to a FlexJobs survey 2019 of more than 2,000 women with children 18 and younger living at home, 31% of women who had a career gap, post-childbirth, expressed their intentions to continue employment; however the job inflexibility did not allow it. The same study found that 71% have left or considered leaving a job because it lacked flexibility, while 40% are concerned that having flexible work arrangements will hurt their career progression. On top of that, 84% of these mothers are confident of successfully performing both their professional and personal duties, if given a choice of Flexi-working schedule.
Women are Demanding Flexible Work Policy
Why is Flexible Work Policy a Lifesaver for Women’s Career ? Studies show that it has become one of the top factors for evaluating job prospects. As per the study, work-life balance (82%), flexible work options (78%), and work schedule (77%) were ranked ahead of salary (76%) as the top factors that working moms consider to evaluate potential job prospects.
The coronavirus outbreak has also played a major role in altering the working preferences of women. As per the findings from the Institute for Family Studies/Wheatley Institution, that included a survey of 2,500 American adults, more than half (53%) mothers say Covid-19 has made them more likely to prefer to work from home either most (34%) or half (19%) of the time.
These preferences are the result of the oodles of benefits that these females have realized during their stay-at-home jobs. In another survey by FlexJobs in 2021, of 2,100 people who were still working remotely due to Covid-19, 60% of women identified better work-life balance and more control and flexibility over the work schedule as significant benefits from home-based working. More than half (57%) admitted that distance employment provides them with the spare time to take care of themselves, cook healthier, and exercise.
The Pandemic Mainstreamed Flexible Work Policy
While the women working from home were extremely strained during the pandemic, as they were juggling with a multitude of tasks, the above findings suggest that in ordinary circumstances, they would anytime prefer remote employment, due to its obvious benefits. Also, apart from “work from home setup”, moms desire flexibility on both professional hours and deadlines. Not only it benefits the employees, but it has also been proved to be a boon for the organizations as well. Many studies in the past have validated that remote employees with Flexi schedules are more productive than those who work from an office in a rigid time frame.
In a FlexJobs survey 2019, 65% of the employees said they were more productive while working remotely, 32% said they demonstrated almost the same productivity levels while 3% think they were less productive. The key reasons for exhibiting higher productivity were fewer distractions (74% of respondents say), fewer interactions with colleagues (72%), and less commuting stress (70%). It is also evident from various surveys, that work from home adoption during covid-19 has indeed improved the productivity of the employees.
It would not be undeniable to say that men have benefitted more than women with remote employment during pandemics, however, this was primarily due to the additional burden of children homeschooling, which is primarily considered as the responsibility of women. Barring this one-off pandemic situation, flexible job policies can unarguably offer extreme solace to employed moms and address the gender equality issues in the workplace. By cutting down the commuting time and other office distractions, women can deliver more productivity and continue with their full-time jobs during the caregiving years. In a way, the coronavirus outbreak has taught us the possibility of Flexi working culture.