The Corner

Economy & Business

Flexible Work Options Mean More Women in Senior Roles

A friend just shared this new study by Zurich Insurance: It details the big jump in female job applicants (and hires) for senior management roles when those positions were described as potentially including part-time, job-share or other flexible work options.

This could be a silver-lining of COVID-19. More employers recognize that at-home and non-traditional employment arrangements can work for businesses. That means that women (and men) who want or need those options are more likely to find such opportunities. Women who might otherwise have sidelined their careers while raising children are more likely to find ways to continue to work and climb the economic ladder. Expect to find more women in corner offices and boardrooms down the road as a result.

This article in Crain’s New York Business presents the issue and findings matter-of-factly, but as is typical for coverage of this issue, there is always the sense that women are being unfairly forced into the role of caregiver.  This article puts it this way: “Despite increasing economic participation in recent years, women are still more likely to undertake the majority of domestic and caring responsibilities.”

Undoubtedly that’s true, but it’s important to note that many women want to be present when their children are young; it isn’t just something that is unfairly forced upon them. The new paradigms of being able to customize work relationships, rather than face all-or-nothing full-time employment relationships, make that possible.

Unfortunately, this progress is jeopardized by proposals that would make it harder for businesses to offer non-traditional employment options. California’s AB5, for example, is destroying work opportunities for women like Monica, who has been running a florist and event business, and men like Patrick, who had been an emissary for Santa Claus in California but is out of work due to AB5. House Democrats, and both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, support imposing such restrictions nationally, which would derail this progress and make it harder for people — particularly women — to find flexible work options when they need it.

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