By Councillor Clare Hilley

The Government’s recent proposals to expand flexible working opportunities to fathers should be welcomed on all sides as another landmark step for women in the workplace.

For too long, the lack of flexibility around bringing up a child has meant that women seeking to return to their careers have been put at a disadvantage due to challenging working rights. This is indeed a bold move and one which crucially provides a clear choice for hardworking parents about how best to bring up their children. This freedom will enable families to better plan the upbringing of their children, whilst balancing this against maintaining their own careers.

Likewise, the growing opportunities provided via technology for increased flexible working are a welcome development for those wishing to preserve their career whilst providing a decent upbringing for their child. Once upon a time, not being able to reach the office meant you weren’t able to work. Now, thanks to the growing influence of mobile and internet technologies, staying online and meeting working deadlines can be achieved either at home or on the move with ease. These technologies also allow productivity to continue in the event of a sudden crisis or need to work from home at the last minute, meaning businesses can increase productivity whilst enabling more flexible and efficient ways of working for those with young children.

Employers shouldn’t view these developments with suspicion; they are a natural progression, rebalancing the choices for hardworking women who want to continue their careers. By harnessing the benefits of technology, business leaders can create employment packages that are family friendly, whilst flexible and productive for the business. With hardworking parents seeking employers which offer better deals to accommodate their busy family lifestyles, it’s time for UK business leaders to seize the initiative and take action now.

David Cameron is already on record saying that businesses need more women in the boardroom. With many more successful women climbing the ladder and juggling family commitments with career success in politics and business life, there has never been a better time for UK businesses to look towards new ways to attract and retain Britain’s brightest women workers. By mixing the latest technology benefits with family friendly working perks and policies, forward thinking UK businesses will be ahead of the game when it comes to hiring the very top women in the business world.

Clare Hilley is an elected local Councillor in the London Borough of Croydon and works in the communications industry. She is a prominent Conservative Party activist and campaigns to encourage more women to get involved in politics and business.

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