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Flexibility: the gateway to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace

June 13, 2022

Offering flexibility to employees is emerging as a significant way to move the needle in a positive direction on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). A new survey by Future Forum reveals that flexibility continues to be most valued by those who have been underrepresented in knowledge work, including women, people of color, and working mothers. 

According to data gathered from 10,818 knowledge workers in the U.S., Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and the U.K., 38% of black male employees and 33% of black female employees would prefer a fully flexible schedule, compared to 25% of white female employees and 26% of white male employees.

But in the last quarter, with many employers calling their workers back to the office, women and working mothers are expressing their desire for location flexibility more than ever. The survey shows that the number of women who say they want to work remotely three to five days a week increased at a rate two and a half times that of men this quarter, widening the difference in sentiment between men and women in location preference: 58% of women want to work remotely 3 to 5 days a week (up from 52% in November/2021) compared to 48% of men (up from 46% in November/2021).

The number of working mothers who say they want location flexibility has also grown significantly, the report says. Eighty-two percent of working mothers want location flexibility, a three percentage point increase and the highest level of interest since we began the survey, compared to 80% of working fathers and women without children and 74% of men without children. And 57% of working mothers want to work remotely 3 to 5 days a week (up from 50% in November/2021) compared to 48% of working fathers (up from 43% in November/2021).

The survey also found that flexibility is a concern for all parents in general when it comes to career development: 46% of working parents are worried that remote work will negatively impact their careers, compared to 34% of non-parents. Working parents are also more likely than non-parents to experience workplace bias, with 29% of working parents and 26% of working mothers saying they have been negatively impacted by workplace bias in the past year, compared to 23% of male and female non-parents.

Source: Future Forum | Pulse Survey