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Half of women ‘not confident’ about flexible working entitlement, says Hilton

New research by hospitality group Hilton has revealed that 43% of working women would “not feel confident” asking their employer about flexible working hours. 

Despite this, the research also found that 62% of women said flexible working topped the “most important thing” to look for in a potential employer, valued above a high salary (54%) and holiday entitlement (51%).

The research was carried out by Hilton ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March. The group surveyed 2,000 working women, and found that 52% of respondents want senior leaders to “champion flexible working” to encourage women to progress in their careers.

Some 65% of respondents wanted a better work-life balance in their career, while 46% wanted to spend more time with their family. Some 40% of women cited improved mental health as the “biggest positive” of flexible working. 

However, almost a third (31%) of women believed their employer would “not be understanding” if they opted for flexible working, while 37% believe their salary would be impacted. 

Hilton said it wished to “challenge the perception” that only one-in-five (19%) women think hospitality offers good flexible working opportunities. 

The company, which was named the second best place for women to work in the 2019 Great Place to Work awards, has now “placed a spotlight” on the female-led Hilton London Canary Wharf team. 

Stacey Boast, general manager, Hilton London Canary Wharf, said: “For International Women’s Day 2020 we wanted to take the opportunity to remind people of the fantastic female talent we have in our industry and the diversity of roles across hospitality. 

“Hospitality is a 24/7 industry and being able to choose a working pattern that suits is hugely beneficial to working women and men and it’s important that it isn’t seen as a barrier to progression.”

She added: “General manager roles at Hilton allow for flexible working, home working is encouraged in many departments, and the 24/7 nature of hospitality allows Team Members to work flexible shift patterns. 

“Hilton is a headline signatory of the Women in Hospitality charter and is working with other companies across the industry to find solutions to some of the industry’s challenges. Hilton was recognised by Great Place to Work last year as the #2 Best Place to Work for Women in the UK.”

Lizzie Benton, culture consultant and the founder of Liberty Mind, said: “Flexible working has the ability to bring more women back into the workplace and we need to start being realistic that the traditional working hours are no longer fit for modern life. 

“And who said eight hours was productive anyway? This research shows time and time again that flexible working supports more people in the workplace and provides a better work-life balance for those who are sole carers.” 

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