A new case study finds that women are 20 per cent more likely to apply for senior roles if the job offers flexible hours, indicating a key area for employers to consider when recruiting for top talent at the highest level. 

The insurance company Zurich, in collaboration with the think tank Behavioural Insights Team, has found that women are significantly more likely to apply for senior roles if the jobs offer flexibility in terms of hours.

Last year, the company advertised all its vacancies as part-time, job share or flexible working – becoming the first company in the UK to offer this level of flexibility.

Due to this, the company saw over 20 per cent more female applicants which led to the number of women hired for the most senior roles at the company increase by 33 per cent. In addition, there was a 16 per cent rise in the number of women applying  for positions within the company generally.

An additional tactic that proved useful for attracting talent was the use of gender-neutral language in job adverts which the company stated generated “significant change”.

Female employees had previously reported that the jobs for senior roles were not as attractive to them due to the lack of flexibility. This led Zurich to implement flexible working across all their job vacancies which has now become a permanent feature in the wake of COVID-19.

However, analysing Zurich job vacancies from March 2019 and February 2020, men also applied for more roles when the jobs offered flexible working, suggesting that this issue is an important requirement for all employees – not just for women who are more likely to have caring responsibilities.

Steve Collinson, Head of HR at Zurich, said:

Flexible working can help to tackle diversity and inclusion issues we’ve all been battling with for many years.

By offering roles that fit flexibly around family life, employers could open the floodgates to a much wider pool of untapped talent.

This will also help women progress into higher paid jobs whilst fitting other commitments around their careers.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.