Will the return to the office spell bad news for women?
PA’s Rachel Brassey, head of people and change, and Kate Lafferty, inclusion and diversity expert, are quoted in an article in FT Ignites Europe about how the ‘return to the office’ will impact women.
The article explores a number of reasons why fund firms could find there are fewer women in the office than pre-pandemic and what steps firms should take to ensure progress towards gender equality in the workplace does not reverse.
According to Rachael, the ability to work remotely may have been a lifeline for many working parents, but “the career consequences could be about to hit home”.
Rachael explains that those who are opting to work in a hybrid capacity are becoming “worried” that colleagues returning to the office full time will be at an advantage. She says: “How can they match the exposure and visibility of their peers who are able to choose to be in the office full time?”
Kate goes on to talk about parents leaving early for school pick-up, which may have been frowned upon pre pandemic, is a completely “necessary and essential part of parent life”.
She goes on to say: “Given the magnitude of change and relative freedom that the pandemic has allowed for many individuals, taking this away could threaten both their feelings of inclusion at work, as well as having knock-on-implications for their wellbeing.”
Flexibility is now the most popular employee benefit when firms are attracting and retaining new employees. Commenting on this, Rachael says that firms will now need to be “really deliberate” about their work policies.
Rachael goes on to talk about firms having a formal remote working policy with clear expectations. She explains: “Frequent one-to-one meetings between remote workers and their managers are essential as the opportunity for spontaneous check-ins will not be there. When it comes to meetings, those conducting them should make sure remote workers have an equal chance to contribute or hold all meetings virtually.”
To conclude, Kate says that the key to maintaining a diverse and inclusive culture is to let flexibility lead the way.