Hays UK jobs and employment blog


How flexible working is helping to drive the diversity agenda in marketing

By Clare Kemsley, Managing Director of Hays Marketing, Retail and Sales, UK&I

The world of work has seen revolutionary changes this year and the marketing profession is no exception to this. ‘Business as usual’ took a back seat as organisations handled the immediate impacts of the pandemic and huge numbers of professionals switched to working remotely almost overnight.

It’s only now, six months after the Covid-19 lockdown commenced in March, that we are able to start to gauge the impact of these events. According to research conducted for the Hays Equality, Diversity and Inclusion 2020 report, one of the impacts of this change has been on ED&I agendas across organisations.

To what extent do employers and professionals prioritise ED&I?

ED&I is becoming an ever-greater priority for employers and continues its climb to the highest rung on the agenda of many organisations, great and small. The pandemic, disruptive though it has been, does not seem to have depleted the strategic importance of greater ED&I in the workplace, according to our research. Employers and professionals alike believe a more equal, diverse and inclusive workplace offers many advantages for their organisation, with productivity, staff morale and company culture just three areas that are perceived to be positively impacted.

Our findings also highlight the importance marketing professionals place on working somewhere that is committed to ED&I. We found that three quarters (75%) of those in marketing said that, when looking for a new role, an organisation’s diversity and inclusion policies are important to them. Furthermore, over two thirds (67%) said they would only apply to an organisation which has a public commitment to ED&I. Therefore ED&I needs to remain a priority - particularly when it comes to attracting new talent.

How the rise of flexible working is affecting ED&I

Flexible and remote working have historically seen a strong presence in the marketing profession, but the rapid transition to full-time remote working for many during lockdown has had an impact. Over three quarters (76%) of those working in marketing are currently working flexibly and the vast majority (78%) believe that increased access to flexible working can help their organisation gain access to a more diverse pool of talent.

However, respondents also noted drawbacks that this flexibility has, with nearly half (45%) saying that flexible working practices can cause boundaries between work and home lives to blur, and a quarter saying that they can cause burnout. Furthermore, nearly a fifth (18%) believe that working flexibly is negatively impacting their career progression.

What employers need to prioritise

So how can employers use flexible working to drive their ED&I agenda? Here are our recommendations:

  • Showcase a public commitment to ED&I: A diverse and inclusive workforce is no longer a unique selling point to prospective employees. Employers wanting to attract and retain the best individuals need to make comprehensive ED&I policies a core part of their talent acquisition and retention strategy, and have a public voice on current diversity and inclusion issues.
  • Promote ED&I initiatives across the jobseeker journey: ED&I policies including flexible working options need to be promoted at key points in the jobseeker journey, such as in job ads and on your organisation’s website, to avoid lowering your engagement with top talent.
  • Understand that flexible working isn’t ‘one-size-fits-all’: Flexible working options should be tailored – employers need to realise that it offers huge advantages for some, but drawbacks for others depending on their role, working style and personal circumstances. Try to be mindful of and accommodating to this by remaining open to flexible working for all employees, not just those who are parents or carers.

How employees can take responsibility

What can employees do to reap the ED&I benefits of flexible working? Here are some things to think about:

  • Look for an employer’s commitment to ED&I: If you are job searching, make looking for ED&I policies a priority. Organisations who are committed to ED&I are invariably more enjoyable to work for and are more likely to thrive in our rapidly evolving world of work.
  • Consider what working style works best for you: What do you need to work at your best? Consider what your ideal working arrangement would be and discuss this with your employer. An organisation that truly fosters a diverse and inclusive environment will work with you to figure out a flexible working arrangement which best suits you.
  • Open a constructive dialogue with your employer: Try to remain adaptable and practical in light of your employer’s situation and the current circumstances. When discussing ED&I initiatives or flexible working, approach the conversation constructively and focus on how both you and your organisation will benefit.

By working together, employers and employees will help the marketing profession continue to make progress and reap the ED&I benefits of flexible working.

For more insights into how the flexible working revolution is impacting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, request a copy of our latest Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Report.

About this author

Over her last ten years at Hays, Clare has developed a detailed understanding of creative and customer focussed industries and the talent they need to succeed. She is a believer that great behaviour drives the culture of the business and allows the customer experience to be one of the highest quality.


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