The Equal Opportunities Commission has called for employers to make flexible working the norm to help get more women into top jobs.
EOC research Sex and Power: Who Runs Britain? 2007 has found that women are ‘woefully under-represented’ in top jobs. The EOC report says that women make up just 10% of directors of FTSE 100 companies and describes them as ‘missing’, from top jobs in both the public and private sectors.
EOC chair, Jenny Watson said: "Asking for flexible working still spells career death for too many women in today’s workplace, and as a consequence women with caring responsibilities all too often have to ‘trade down’ to keep working. Extending the right to ask for flexible working to everyone in the workplace would change that culture and enable more women to reach the top."
Susan Anderson, the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) director of human resources policy, acknowledges that women are still under-represented in senior positions but is optimistic thanks to an increase in the number of women becoming directors, especially from younger age groups. She agreed that improving flexible working opportunities is important for closing the size of the gender gap in senior roles. She said: "Nine out of 10 UK employers offer flexible working which has helped to attract more women back to the workplace. The big challenge is to create more flexibility in senior roles to encourage women to apply for these positions. If more women are to work in male-dominated industries, better careers guidance for girls in schools and colleges is also required."