Zurich UK shares new of a 95% increase in female part time workers

By Jessica Durston - 13 January 2023

  • Donna Wayman, Head of UK Portfolio at Zurich, pictured with her family

    Donna Wayman, Head of UK Portfolio at Zurich, pictured with her family

Zurich UK says the number of women hired into part time roles nearly doubled last year, as the insurer continues to see a year-on-year increase.

As a result of this gradual increase of the aforementioned hiring, the insurer says it continues to reap the benefits of offering all jobs on a part-time or flexible basis. 

Zurich said in 2019, it partnered with the then Government-run Behaviour Insights Team to identify issues that were blocking career progression for women. The UK insurer found that a lack of part time senior roles was making female employees less likely to apply for top jobs.

In response, Zurich decided to become the first company in the UK to advertise all vacancies with the option of part-time, full-time, job share or flexible working. Coupled with the use of gender-neutral language in every job advertisement, this was said to have led to a 16% rise in women applying for jobs.

In 2022 this trend had apparently accelerated dramatically. Between January and November Zurich said there was a 95% year-on-year increase in female part time workers hired at the insurer, while the number of part time male workers tripled over the same period.

Overall, the insurer said that five times more female part time workers were hired in 2022 compared to 2019 when the initiative started.

Zurich’s latest data comes at the same time as the Government’s announcement that millions of UK workers will soon be able to request flexible working from day one of their employment, under plans to make flexible working the default.

Part time workers were said to have made up 13.5% of all Zurich UK hires in 2022, up from 10.7% in 2021 and 6.5% in 2019.

Since the beginning of 2019, 89% of part time starters were female compared to 11% of men. Zurich said this is reflective of a broader societal trend – across the UK’s workforce some 38% of women work part time, compared to 13% of men.

Meanwhile from January to November 2022, 45% more women were said to have been hired into senior roles at Zurich UK compared to the same period in 2019 (62 to 90). 2022 saw 17% more women hired into senior roles than in 2021.

Overall, the number of applications per vacancy was found to have climbed to 20 in 2022 compared to just 13 in the 12 months prior to the job advert wording changes in 2019.

Zurich says it has also become the first insurer to sign up to Roleshare, a service which matches applicants searching for part time and job share roles with employers.

Commenting on the data, Steve Collinson, Chief HR Officer at Zurich UK said: “The pandemic accelerated demand for flexible working, but our data shows that offering roles as part time can also be a real driver in bringing more women into an organisation, especially in senior roles.

“As advocates of flexible working for over a decade, we are proud of the success of this initiative and pleased to see that the positive trends are all heading in the right direction.”

Despite the advantages, research from social enterprise Timewise found that 30% of UK job vacancies advertised some form of flexible working such as remote working, home working or part-time hours.

Of these, Timewise found part time jobs make up just 12% of job adverts. In addition two in five women of the total surveyed said they would not apply for jobs if they do not have the option of flexible working.

Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP said: “Recent years have shown the great benefits that flexible working can bring to workers, but it is becoming increasingly obvious as a benefit to employers too, especially when it comes to attracting talent. Zurich’s work in this area shows that small changes to job adverts and roles offered can be a great benefit to workplace equality.”

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