Why more businesses need to embrace workplace flexibility

Are employers more likely to grant flexible working hours to women?

Both men and women think working flexible hours could damage their career prospects, new CPA Australia survey data suggests.

In an online survey of 680 respondents – mostly CPA Australia members – 31 per cent report believing that accessing flexible work arrangements will have a negative impact on their promotion chances.

The survey also suggests that employers are more likely to grant flexible working conditions to women, with 77 per cent of female respondents who said they applied for flexible work being successful, compared with 69 per cent of men.

Overall, men report a higher level of confidence that they will become a senior business leader, with 33 per cent of men saying they were very confident, compared with only 20 per cent of women.

The motivation to seek flexible work arrangements was divided along gender lines.

“It isn’t enough for a company to say flexible work practices are encouraged.” Alex Malley, CPA Australia

Women were significantly more likely to nominate caring for children as the primary reason for seeking flexible work arrangements (40 per cent), as opposed to men (22 per cent).

On the other hand, men were more likely to nominate work/life balance (42 per cent) as the primary reason for seeking flexible work arrangements, as opposed to women (32 per cent).

CPA Australia chief executive Alex Malley says the results point to cultural challenges for the business community, with employees’ experiences not matching some of the employer rhetoric. He believes that gender equality and workplace flexibility are not just social issues, but also have significant consequences for economic growth.

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“Creating workplace practices that allow maximum participation is both economically and socially beneficial,” says Malley.

“It isn’t enough for a company to say flexible work practices are encouraged. People need to see it in operation, and they need to see that those accessing flexible arrangements are not having their opportunities for career progression compromised.”

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May 2016
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