When women win, everybody wins

April 19, 2021

By Liza Robbins.

“Responsible people thrive on freedom, and are worthy of freedom.”

No, that’s not Winston Churchill or Nelson Mandela…

It’s a quote from a Netflix manifesto, which outlines its workplace culture.

Netflix believes in hiring the best people – and then allowing them to work the hours that suit them and take as much holiday as they like.

The only condition? They have to get their job done to an outstanding standard.

Netflix concluded that 97% of employees can be trusted to act with their company’s interests at heart, and rewards them with flexibility.

We’re all Netflix now.

During the pandemic, with our teams working from home, we’ve all had to trust our staff to work independently and manage their own time.

I expect that even when we all return to the office, staff will retain some of that freedom…

Flexible working has long been perceived as a particular goal for women in the workplace, because it allows a better work / life balance.

However, in the past it has often been offered begrudgingly. In many companies, women who took advantage of this benefit were made to feel guilty.

For a feminist of my generation, it’s exciting to see flexible working become normalised, even if the trigger was a crisis.

But the best part?

The widespread acceptance that it’s not just women who benefit.

It’s a victory for everyone who might prefer to work irregular hours…

From people of any gender with parental responsibilities…

Right through to millennials who may prefer to work from a café during the day, or to get their work done at night…

People trying to balance their work with another degree…

And valuable employees towards the end of their career, who may like to work part-time.

Personally, I recall the final years of my mother’s life when I was frequently called to her side if she had taken a fall. I would have felt extremely torn had my employer back then not trusted me to manage my own time.

And as life expectancy increases, more people in their 50s and 60s will act as carers to elderly parents, and become beneficiaries of this new flexibility.

It’s also a win for our firms.

Our profession is in a war for talent.

To attract the highest performers – and a diverse team – we need to think carefully about how to build the most attractive workplaces.

Hiring the best and then giving them maximum freedom may require a mentality change, but it worked wonders for Netflix…

And it can help us attract and nourish innovative people, too.