Saturday 08 August 2020

Overtime culture affects women’s career opportunities too: FD

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Overtime culture has an equally negative impact on women’s careers as working part-time, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Friday.

Researcher Ans Merens, who monitored the career of both starters and more experienced working women for 16 years, told the paper that fewer career opportunities for women boil down to two things: women work fewer than 35 hours on average and put in fewer extra hours.

The fact that many men are prepared to work 60 hour weeks is just as detrimental for women’s rise through the ranks as Dutch women’s propensity for working part-time, Merens, who works for the SCP think-tank, told the FD.

‘They are equally important factors, especially when the unpaid overtime exceeds 10 hours a week,’ she said, adding that such obvious devotion to the job is often rewarded with promotion.

More women are occupying top positions in almost 60% of the 275 companies that signed a charter to promote a greater female presence, according to figures from government agency Talent to the Top (TndT).

However, the number of prospective female business leaders, who are currently occupying jobs at a lower level, is declining, and this could affect the legally binding quota of 30%  set for the inclusion of women on management boards and boards of directors in 2013, the FD said.

A number of the charter-affiliated companies have offices at the Amsterdam Zuidas business quarter, a site not associated with relaxed working hours, Merens found. While these companies are dedicated to the aims of the charter they are not tackling overtime culture, which is detrimental to both men and women, she said.

Culture

Companies which reward a culture of extremely long working hours put their staff at a higher risk of burn-out and could see them leave to find a job with a better work-life balance, the SCP has warned.

Long working hours are particularly prevalent in the financial services, with working weeks of 49 hours being the norm rather than the exception. In a recent poll cited by the paper, almost half of lawyers and partners in big firms said their work had a negative effect on their private lives.

Dave Cohen of law firm Houthoff told the paper that although long working weeks happen, it is not the case that young lawyers with leadership ambitions must work extra time in order to earn promotion.

‘If that is the perception we have to be clearer. Keep your team and your client posted if you are absent for a bit. You can open your laptop at night, if that is more convenient for your private life,’ he told the paper.

Cohen also said the coronavirus crisis will be a ‘game changer’. ‘It will fundamentally change the way we work,’ he said.

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