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How Diageo are using flexible working to narrow their gender pay gap

Karen Mattison MBE, CEO & Co-Founder, Timewise

Gender pay gap conceptFollowing the government’s requirement that employers publish details of their gender pay gap by April 2018, some employers are already on the front foot. Step forward Diageo, the global beverage company and Timewise Partner, who published their report in November 2017. It’s a detailed report, which makes interesting reading for anyone who believes in the drive for better workplace equality.

Firstly, we’re delighted that Diageo have acknowledged that flexible working is central to closing the gender pay gap. Indeed, they have noted that designing jobs to be more flexible is a key part of their solution going forwards, confirming that they “…will continue to partner with Timewise, with whom we run flexible job design workshops… to ensure roles can be delivered flexibly.”

Interestingly, the work we are doing with Diageo isn’t specifically gender focused; as our recent research has revealed, in today’s workplace, flexibility is for everyone. But experience has shown us that if you get flexible working right, you can’t help but narrow your gender pay gap. As the 2016 Women and Equalities Committee Report into the issue stated:

“A large part of the gender pay gap is down to women’s concentration in part-time work which doesn’t make use of their skill…. Old-fashioned approaches to flexibility in the workplace and a lack of support for those wishing to re-enter the labour market are stopping employers from making the most of women’s talent and experience.”

Secondly, as Diageo know, tackling the gender pay gap through flexible working requires a hands-on approach. As they say in their report “We are proactively identifying roles across the business that are particularly suitable for part-time, job share and flexible job design, to help break down barriers for applicants who do not wish to work full-time.”

So if, like Diageo, you’re looking to close your gender pay gap, and agree that flexibility is part of the solution, here are some suggestions:

  • Advertise your roles as flexible at the point of hire

Our research has shown that almost 9 in 10 of the UK workforce either work flexibly already or wish they could. However, fewer than 1 in 10 jobs are advertised as being flexible, which means these candidates have a limited pool of jobs to apply for.

Diageo have stated up front that they are open to a conversation about how they can make their roles work flexibly, but this is still all too rare. There’s a big opportunity here for progressive employers like them to scoop up talented flex-enthusiasts.

  • Back up your advertising with a supportive culture

If the people in your organisation don’t approach flexible working positively, it’s doomed to failure. In particular, senior leaders and line managers need to understand the benefits flexibility can bring to the business, and be trained in how to support their flexible employees.

This is something that Diageo is rightly proud of. As Louise Jones, their part-time Head of HR, explains:

“The environment that Diageo fosters and my commitment to the company makes my part-time role achievable. The level of trust is exceptional and it is also normal for employees to flex where they work as and when it makes sense to do so. What matters at Diageo is what you deliver, not where you sit.”

  • Design flexibility into new and existing roles

Flexible working is far more likely to succeed when a role is designed flexibly, rather than just having elements of flexibility shoehorned in. However, some organisations still try and take shortcuts, such as expecting a part-time employee to squeeze a full-time job into fewer days.

As Diageo have stated, they take a more proactive approach, working with us to deliver workshops on flexible job design through our training and consultancy service. One of the initiatives they are hoping to implement is an internal job share portal, which will help their employees find a job share partner.

With these kind of well-planned processes in place, organisations will be able to reduce their gender pay gap, not to mention improving career progression for flexible employees and creating a fairer, more inclusive workplace. And with April 2018 looming, there’s no time to waste.

Diageo deliberately invites flexible talent into their organisation, saying: “If you’re looking for a flexible role, come and join us.” We’d like to issue a similar invitation to employers: if you’re looking to tackle your gender pay gap through flexible working, come and talk to us.

To find out more about our consultancy and training services, please call 020 7633 4444 or email

This article has been written in association with Diageo, one of our Timewise partners.

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