By Emma Stewart, CEO, Timewise
There’s a prevailing view that all publicity is good publicity. But in
the case of the recent Fiat / Elle collaboration, I’m not sure that’s true.
spot in their joint content series, called ‘A modern woman’s guide
to…’ features Elle’s digital editor on a video call in her car, telling
colleagues she’s at a pitch. She then takes off her smart coat to reveal a
football kit, and steps out of the car to join the game.
Now, I’m sure the creative team behind the film saw it as a
tongue-in-cheek, lighthearted bit of fun, with a celebration of women’s
football thrown in. But as the
subsequent backlash highlighted, it’s based on an out-of-date
attitude towards flexible working that isn’t great for the organisations’ brand
The fact is, in 2019, people shouldn’t have to lie about working
flexibly. The law is on their side; all employees have had the right to request
flexible working arrangements since 2014. And with flexible working frequently
cited as a solution to workplace issues such as the gender pay gap
well-being, the zeitgeist is going their way too.
What’s more, as this year’s Power
50 winners showed, there are a growing number of examples of people
who are openly, and proudly, working flexibly for a huge range of reasons. None
of them need to pretend to be working when they’re pursuing their family
commitments or side hustles. They just get on and deliver.
But by implying that flexible workers are skivers, the film took us back to a time when, for example, managers worried that letting people work from home would mean they spent the day watching TV or doing the washing. And in doing so, it alienated the very people it was trying to appeal to.