Ikea stores play catch-up over flexible working

Swedish
home furniture chain Ikea is hoping to recruit and promote more female managers
by introducing improved flexible working arrangements.

The
retailer wants to encourage women already with the company to move up the
management ladder and attract more external female candidates.

Alison
Phillip, Ikea’s HR manager for the UK, fears the long opening hours at its 167
stores is proving a turn-off for potential managers, especially women. She
wants to introduce more flexibility for managers as people increasingly become
attracted to improved work-life balance or look to fit work around their family
commitments.

The
group, which employs 7,000 staff across 167 stores, is considering allowing
some managers to work from home and looking at changing current working
patterns.

"Retail
is quite male dominated, and I believe we’re a little out of balance. We have
great balance up to a certain level then it stops," she said.

"We’re
really trying to encourage people to come through the organisation and looking
at our external advertising."

Although
more than 55 per cent of Ikea’s workforce is female, this diversity is not
reflected at higher levels within the company, with just three women at store
management level compared to nine men.

Phillips
is currently preparing draft documents on how the company will approach the problem
and expects to unveil more details by January 2004.

"We
have to be smarter about how we can make this more attractive to women and men.
It’s about being open to treating people with different life situations in
different ways," she added.

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