Job flexibility will drive workforce diversity

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If businesses want to cultivate a culture of equality, they need to change their views on flexible working, says business psychologist Jess Hornsby.

Speaking at the Flexpo Business Digital Summit yesterday (30 June) Hornsby said to make a truly diverse workforce business leaders must be brave and change their systems to allow all job roles to be flexible.

She said: “If leaders don’t think a role is flexible then they should put a business case together based on evidence and data as to why that is.

“It’s important flexible working is viewed not just as homeworking but as job sharing or other creative working patterns to help people have a better work/life balance.

“If a leader’s justifications for not offering flexible working are solely based on evidence then that can’t be altered, but if it is steeped in bias and unjustifiable reasoning, then that system needs to be radically changed.”

Natasha Oppenheim, CEO of over-50s recruitment company No Desire to Retire, said if businesses embrace flexible working, they’ll see a rise in employees who can add value to their workforce.

She said: “Fundamentally flexible working reflects the reality of how people live their lives now.

“Every employee will have a number of different things going on in their daily lives and will come with their own diverse background, and as an employer, the more flexible that you are the more people you’ll be able to hire and engage with.”

Oppenheim said flexible working can work for everyone because it is designed to fit an individual’s life instead of an entire team.

“For example, older workers are far more likely to have caring responsibilities for their elderly parent or for their young grandchildren.

“Therefore, having the flexibility to stay working will allow them to continue to the workplace for much longer,” she said.  


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Cynthia Davis, founder of BAME Recruitment and Diversifying, said the pandemic has shown that people don’t have to be chained to their desks to be productive.

She said: “The past 18 months of enforced remote working has busted the myth that not being in the office decreases productivity.

“If anything, it’s proven that when they are given the chance to be, people can be really creative in the ways in which they keep team engagement and productivity high.”

Davis said as everyone worked remotely during the pandemic, businesses should explore how employees feel they performed and how they want to work post-pandemic.

“Businesses should take this opportunity to create their own data, to inform their post-pandemic workplace strategies.

“By gathering your own data, you are collating data points that are specific to your people, which will benefit the whole business,” she said.

 

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