42% of women in the UK know someone who had to give up work due to lack of flexibility

We’ve made progress in increasing the availability of flexible working. But sadly, as new research from Women in Business Expo shows, we still have a long way to go.

The research, which surveyed 2,000 working women throughout the UK, found a lack of flexibility and issues with childcare are still some of the biggest challenges women in the UK face in their careers. And that, shockingly, 42% of women know someone who has had to give up work due to a lack of flexible working options.

In fact, 40% of British women say the lack of flexible working options available has been the biggest challenge they have faced in their own career. While 39% have struggled to find a role with the right level of flexibility required. 


Flexibility failures have far reaching impact

Failures in flexibility can have a far reaching impact on the work-life balance of many women. For 67% of British women having a work-life balance is more important to them than salary. But, despite this, 39% are still frustrated that they have had to sacrifice their salary and career progression so that they can ensure they have the right work-life balance in bringing up a family.

Worryingly, juggling family and work commitments is still a big issue for working women in the UK. Just under half (48%) of women know someone who has had to give up work due to the cost of childcare and 19% have either denied or not mentioned to potential employers that they have or are planning to have children.

20% of women surveyed also stated they would have to take parental leave even though they earn more than their partner.

55% of women want more more flexible roles created

Given this response, it’s unsurprising that when asked what initiatives would have the most positive impact on workplace gender equality, 38% called for greater support for paternity leave in the workplace. 34% also stated that greater support needed to come from the government for this.

However it didn’t quite make the top spot in improvement initiatives, as over half of women (55%) stated the creation of more flexible roles would have one of the most positive impacts, and 42% noted the simple ability to have more open conversation regarding flexibility within roles.

Christie Day, Group Event Director for Women in Business Expo commented:

“There’s been huge strides in workplace gender equality in the last couple of decades, but this research has shown there is still a long way to go before we achieve total gender parity. A quarter of women (25%) still have issues with a gender pay gap in their workplace, and 16% still experience everyday sexism.

This is simply not good enough. Businesses leaders need to start taking greater responsibility for ensuring equality in the workplace beyond what is mandated by the government. Offering flexible working, for example, would not only benefit female employees with children but is something everyone would value.”

Visit a new business exhibition for women this October

Women in Business Expo is the UK’s first exhibition dedicated to supporting women in business. The two day event is free to attend and takes place at Farnborough International Conference and Exhibition Centre, Hampshire.

Running from 16-17 October 2019, you’ll have access to a roster of top speakers and exhibitors from across the UK, who will share tips, knowledge and career opportunities.

You can take advantage of a wide range of talks and access to leading companies, which will provide business, franchise and career opportunities along with support for future career moves. 

This year’s event, sponsored by VodafoneAvastPure StorageHSBCIBMSky and Red Hat, will include a focus on Women in Tech, Women in Franchise and Women in Finance.

For more information about Women in Business Expo, please visit their website or follow them on Twitter @wibexpouk.

Photo by Romane Gautun