A report published today by non-profit organisation Catalyst said that, while there have been high profile withdrawals from flexible working, the practices are alive and well in most businesses. It claims talented men and women working in firms with flexible working arrangements have higher aspirations than those without.
Catalyst said employers should end their fixation with how and where work is done as face time does not mean higher productivity.
The report authors questioned 726 ‘high potential’ employees around the world in for-profit and non-profit organisations. The interviewees, who are all MBA graduates, reported that there are flexible working practices in nearly all businesses, with no difference in the type and size of organisation.
There was also little difference in the importance of flexible working to those with children at home and those without – 54% and 50% respectively reported flexible working as very or extremely important.
While women do see flexible working arrangements as more important than men, the authors found that men and women use the arrangements a similar amount during their careers. The exception to this related to face to face contact. Men were less likely than women to engage in practices that limited face to face contact – such as working from home.
Interestingly, high-potentials working in organisations with flexible working have higher aspirations than their peers without. Of those with access, 90% reported aspiring to senior executive/CEO level, while the figure for those without access to flexible working arrangements was 77%.
When these figures are split, 94% of men with flexible working arrangements have high aspirations, compared with 85% at companies without flexibility. However, the drop for women is significant – 30%, sinking from 83% to 54%.
Women working for organisations without flexibility were also more than twice as likely ‘dial down’ their aspirations – a phenomenon that did not affect men.
It said: “High potentials want and use FWA [flexible working arrangement] options, and access to FWAs is critical to attracting and retaining top talent throughout the pipeline.”
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/casamatita/