Could cloud computing help close the gender gap in your firm?

Cloud computing is a hot topic. Especially when it comes to its ability to enable new and flexible ways of working. Of course, mobile technology and hosted desktop solutions are helping to create a tech-enabled mobile workforce; reducing the need for employees to sit at their desks 9-5. But could the power of the cloud do more than facilitate mobile working? Could it also help to close the gender pay and career advancement gap?

We all know that – despite almost half a century having passed since the Equal Pay Act – on average, women earn less than their male counterparts. And, while the government has introduced mandatory gender pay gap reporting to help deal with this, getting rid of the glass ceiling and addressing the more subtle barriers to career advancement is perhaps an even bigger challenge.

Is flexible working the secret to tackling the gender gap?

People want flexible employment. And it seems employers are listening; with flexible working predicted to be the main way of working for 70% of organisations by 2020.[1] And that could be good news for women, with a government report stating that flexible working is the key to tackling the gender pay gap.

A lack of flexible working opportunities – including variable start and finish times, working from home, or the option to work fewer days is the main driver of the enduring pay difference between men and women[2].

And it makes sense. As long as women remain the primary caregivers for their children, a rigid attachment to traditional office hours is always going to be tricky (particularly for mothers returning from maternity leave). A few hours of latitude really could make all the difference. But it’s not just about flexibility; it’s also about mobility. Let’s face it, flexible working is unlikely to deliver significant benefits if employees still have to clock into the office every day.

How can you implement flexible and mobile working practices in your firm?

Put the right tech in place

Technology is crucial. And it needs to be flexible enough to deal with a change in working style. In fact, insufficient technology is one of the biggest barriers to modern ways of working. But putting the right technology in place doesn’t just mean supplying employees with smartphones. Instead, you must leverage both fixed and mobile technology, and invest in cloud computing and a hosted desktop solution so your employees can access their data, software, and files wherever they are.

Get everyone on board

In addition to the right tech, it’s important that everyone is on board, from the top down. Otherwise, a lack of communication can lead to resentments and misunderstandings. Particularly from the bums on seat brigade.

What’s more, to reap the benefits of flexible and mobile working, processes must be designed that help your staff to work smarter rather than longer. While productivity and efficiency are two main advantages of this approach, your employees don’t need to give up more of their free time to realise them.

“By enabling a culture whereby working anywhere is the rule – rather than the exception – employers immediately put trust at the heart of their company ethos – a key to providing a happier and more fulfilling relationship with its staff.”

Sir Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Manchester Business School

Of course, helping women to reach their full potential is the right thing to do, and flexible and mobile working is set to play a significant role in closing the gender gap. But it also has the potential to deliver benefits to all your employees regardless of their gender. And that makes good economic sense.

 If you’re thinking about switching to a hosted desktop service to help your business take advantage of  flexible and mobile working, speak to a member of our team on 01942 263 434 to find out more.

 

[1] Lancaster University’s Work Foundation Report 2016

[2] The Women and Equalities Select Committee