Research from the University of Warwick has revealed that women of senior level ability are trapped in a catch 22.
According to the report, from the university's Institute for Employment Research, a lack of part time roles in the UK - in particular at mid-senior level - forces women to either downgrade the jobs they apply for, to look for full time roles or to abandon their careers completely.
According to lead author Clare Lyonette: "There is a culture among many employers that part time work is not a viable option in more senior positions."
Whilst this is absolutely true - it is by no means a culture shared by all employers.
A small but growing number of forward-thinking business leaders in the UK don't automatically associate 'part time' with 'low responsibility'.
Instead, they see 'part time' and think 'opportunity': opportunity to hire in a candidate with £80,000 of skill and experience for £40,000; opportunity, through job share to acquire a mix of skills and talent that would be impossible to find in one person alone; opportunity to reach a candidate market with an exceptional level of talent, skills and experience.
There are now 6.5 million people working part time in the UK: that accounts for more than a quarter (26%) of our entire working population. According to the Office for National Statistics, one in 10 part time jobs now pays a full time equivalent (FTE) salary of at least £36,000 - a level that is rising year on year. That is a trend reflected here at Women Like Us, where £40,000 plus jobs now make up 15% of the roles we advertise, with the top part-time role we have filled paying over £100,000 FTE.
Of course, many businesses began advertising vacancies as part time or flexible for the first time off the back of the recession. Whether for growth or survival, in 2008 thousands of HR professionals turned to creative recruitment solutions and discovered that part-time recruitment opened the door to a pool of 'hidden' candidates with a wealth of experience.
Yet change was beginning to take place before even before the economy crashed. Our working structures and practises are simply evolving. There has always been a 'core' of innovative employers like Towry, which provides independent, professional wealth advice, that have long embraced part-time working for the simple fact that it works, commercially, for the business. Towry has run a successful Return to Work scheme for a number of years, specifically designed to attract senior-level women looking for a lateral career moves to well paid wealth advisor roles.
In our experience, once employers recruit specifically for part-time high level roles, like Towry, they repeat the process.
The report from the University of Warwick was spot on. There simply aren't enough mid-senior level roles for all the candidates that need them in the UK. Yet, the tide is slowly beginning to turn. What we need now, is for more corporates to lead by example, and talk openly about the great part-time and flexible hires they have made part-time, at senior levels.
David Curtis (pictured) is managing director of Women Like Us, a recruitment agency that finds part-time staff for employers
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