A majority of women want flexible working

Lack of flexibility leads to ‘flexidus’, as seven in 10 working women in India quit or consider quitting their jobs: survey

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Due to strong employer bias, India’s working women are apparently paying heavy penalties to work flexibly. (PTI Photo)

Following the impact of the pandemic, eight in 10 (83%) working women in India have realised they want to work more flexibly than in the pre-pandemic world, a survey has found. In fact, a whopping 72% of working women are rejecting job roles that don’t allow them to work flexibly, while 70% have already quit or have considered quitting their jobs because they weren’t offered the right flexible policies. Conducted by LinkedIn, it covered 22,995 respondents from 19 countries, including 2,266 working women from India.

Benefits of flexible working

The survey noted that 43% women said a flexible work environment improves their work-life balance and helps them progress in their career, 34% said it improves their mental health, and 33% said it increases their likelihood of staying in their current jobs.

Employer bias

At the same time, due to strong employer bias, India’s working women are apparently paying heavy penalties to work flexibly. “Nine in 10 (88%) working women had to take a pay cut to work flexibly, 37% had their flexible working request denied, and 27% struggled to convince their bosses to accept their request. This made women reluctant towards asking for greater flexibility because they fear exclusion, being held back from promotions, working overtime, taking pay cuts, and being treated unfavourably by their superiors,” the survey noted.

Career breaks

As working women continue to juggle between personal commitments and career progress within rigid schedules, 78% working women in India are taking career breaks to improve their well-being, plan career changes and boost their confidence at work. “Career breaks are helping women upskill and boost their employability in today’s tight job market,” the survey added.

But despite these benefits of sabbaticals, 77% working women in India who took a break said it had actually set them back in their careers. This is due to the prevalent stigma associated with career breaks amongst recruiters and employers, which has made it difficult for every second (50%) working woman in India to explain their career break to recruiters. As a result, many choose to exclude career breaks from their CVs (42%) or lie about their breaks to potential recruiters when being interviewed (35%). “Forced to tiptoe about their career breaks, 80% of India’s working women wish for ways that would help them represent their career breaks more positively to hiring managers,” it added.

“Flexible working is the top priority today for all professionals, especially for working women. Our research finds that India is at the brink of a ‘flexidus’, with seven out of 10 working women quitting or considering quitting their jobs due to lack of flexibility. This is a warning sign for companies and recruiters to remove the stigma surrounding the need for flexibility and career breaks, and introduce stronger flexibility policies if they don’t want to lose top talent,” said Ruchee Anand, senior director, India Talent & Learning Solutions, LinkedIn.

The professional network LinkedIn has launched a ‘Career Breaks’ feature that aims to normalise taking career breaks and help women re-enter the workforce. “This feature will de-stigmatise resume gaps as part of our professional journeys, and empower women to better communicate their unique experiences to their connections and recruiters,” Anand said.

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