Flexible hours job ads see women applicants jump 20% in Zurch study

  • Job adverts that offer flexible hours could bring in 20% more women applicants, a new study by insurance giant Zurich has suggested.
  • Gender-neutral language and flexible working options in Zurich’s job adverts led to a 20% jump in women applying for management roles, and a 16% rise in women applying across the board.
  • The Swiss insurance firm was the first major company in the UK to advertise flexible working options in every job vacancy.
  • Many more men applied for these roles too, suggesting flexibility was “just as important” for men, according to the study, which was commissioned by the UK government.
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A new study by insurance giant Zurich suggests advertising flexible hours on senior roles leads to more women applying.

The UK government-commissioned research studied Zurich job vacancies between March 2019 and February 2020. It found that a combination of gender-neutral language as well as flexible working options led to a near-20% jump in women applying for management roles.

It also triggered an overall 16% rise in women applying for jobs at the Swiss insurance firm, according to the study.

Zurich, which employs 4,500 in the UK and a total of 54,000 worldwide, became the first company in the UK in March 2019 to advertise part-time, job share, or flexible working options in all of their job vacancies.

Since changing the policy on job ad wording, the number of women hired for top jobs at Zurich has increased 33%, the study found.

The results form part of a wider UK government-commissioned study with think tank Behavioural Insights Team and Zurich to discover the issues preventing women from progressing in their career. 

The study revealed an initial lack of applications from women for senior Zurich jobs, many of which had not offered flexible working options.

The adverts offering flexible working hours attracted more applications from both males and females, suggesting flexibility was “just as important” for men, the study said.

Steve Collinson, Zurich’s head of HR, said in a statement: “We’ve seen hugely encouraging results, simply by adding six words to our job adverts.”

“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,” Collinson said.

One out of every four working women is considering leaving their job or scaling back their careers, according to results from a study of around 40,000 employees by McKinsey and Co. in September.

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