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Flexible working options are good for employees of both genders but there is still further to go on making them the norm, said the CBI.

The CBI’s trust-in-business campaign, the Great Business Debate, recognises that people’s experience of work is a big influence on their attitudes to business more widely and work-life balance is an important aspect of that.

Today (3.3.15) PwC have published their Women in Work Index which combines a range of statistics on women and work. When it comes to the proportion of women in employment, the UK is in the top 10 developed countries but the Index also suggests flexible working is undermining women’s career progress. The Guardian 

Lena Levy, CBI Head of Labour Markets, said:

Flexible working helps men and women participate in the workforce because it helps them juggle working with other responsibilities. It has business benefits too because it widens the pool of talent available to companies.

What matters is that flexibility is seen as an option for everyone and not just a ‘womens’ thing’. We need flexible working to be regarded as the norm – for firms to presume in favour of it whenever possible and for all employees to be comfortable asking for it and taking it up.”

CBI research shows almost nine in every 10 firms offer some form of flexible working, but a YouGov poll of nearly 1300 workers for the Great Business Debate, suggests too many workers are reluctant to ask their employer about the options. Men are just as uncomfortable asking for flexibility as women and both genders find it equally difficult to balance work and family life.

We discuss the issues in our flexible working podcast featuring Caroline Artis, senior partner for London, EY, Carol Rosati, director, Harvey Nash & founder of Inspire, an international network for businesswomen, Sarah Churchman head of diversity & inclusion, PwC and Sarah Jackson, chief executive, Working Families.

And join the debate here and on twitter @bizdebate

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