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Zurich added 6 words to job listings and saw women’s share of applications—and hires—jump

November 17, 2020, 1:52 PM UTC

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! SpaceX astronauts arrive at the International Space Station, Taylor Swift’s masters have a new owner, and a new study makes the case for flexible work arrangements. Have a lovely Tuesday.

– The ‘six word’ difference. The pandemic has foisted work-from-home arrangements on employers; one lingering question is whether the more flexible approach to work will last beyond the current crisis. A new study suggests it should.

Last year, the U.K. division of Zurich, an insurer, advertised 80% of its open positions as “part-time, full-time, job share or flexible working” opportunities. (It also used “gender-neutral language” in each listing.)

The results, published today, are noteworthy: Zurich says women made up a larger share of applicants for top jobs, and, ultimately, the 28 senior women it hired represented 50% of all senior hires, up from women’s 37.5% share the previous year.

“[W]e’ve seen hugely encouraging results, simply by adding six words to our job adverts,” Steve Collinson, Zurich’s head of HR, said in a statement. The findings suggest that offering roles with more flexibility could “help women progress into higher paid jobs whilst fitting other commitments around their careers,” he said.

Underpinning the study is a reality we’re painfully aware of; that women continue to shoulder a disproportionately large share of household and childcare responsibilities. Fixed working hours and face-time expectations can be incongruous with the demands of their daily lives, so much so that such rigidity can drive women from the work force.

The pandemic has only exacerbated those trends; women are more likely to take on the additional at-home tasks, such as children’s remote learning, which makes their need for flexible work arrangements (not to mention childcare options!) even more dire.

The new Zurich study—backed by the U.K. government’s Behavioral Insights Team and conducted from March 2019 to February 2020, before the pandemic and recession hit—makes the case for extending flexible working arrangements beyond the current crisis.

It also suggests that flexibility at work is not just a women’s issue. Overall, Zurich says the job listings attracted more than double the number of applications by both male and female candidates.

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@claire.zillman

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Blast off. Last night, four astronauts—including Shannon Walker—arrived at the International Space Station in a SpaceX capsule. This was the first fully operational crewed mission for SpaceX, the company led by president Gwynne Shotwell. CNN

- Schoolin' lifeIn this year's class of first-year business school students, women make up a bigger share of students than ever—but are still far from 50%. The Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth came closest to gender parity in incoming students. Bloomberg

- Fed up. The Senate is set to vote today on a procedural motion that moves closer to confirming Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve's board of governors—and could vote on her actual confirmation later in the day. Shelton's nomination by President Trump is controversial. Bloomberg

- Moldova for Maia. Opposition candidate Maia Sandu won a landslide victory in Moldova's election against the pro-Russia incumbent. Sandu is a former World Bank economist who favors closer ties with the European Union. Guardian

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Dina Powell McCormick is taking on a new role at Goldman Sachs as global head of sustainability and inclusive growth and global head of the bank’s sovereign business. Harper's Bazaar hired GQ's Nikki Ogunnaike as digital director. At Gitlab, Palo Alto Networks' Wendy Nice Barnes is the new chief people officer and Merline Saintil joins the board of directors. Leslie Godridge, former co-head of corporate and commercial banking at US Bancorp, and Rudina Seseri, founder and managing partner at Glasswing Ventures, join M&T Bank's board. Food52 hired Stacey C. Rivera, formerly of WW, as SVP of content. Verbal Behavior Associates named Heather O’Shea president. At De Beers Group, SVP of social impact Katie Fergusson is now SVP of sustainable impact; SVP of international relations and ethical initiatives Feriel Zerouki is now SVP, corporate affairs; SVP of group brand in London and VP for marketing and communications at Forevermark US Colby Shergalis is now SVP, brand marketing; and Forevermark CMO Martha Velando is now SVP, global marketing. Annette Clayton, CEO and president, Schneider Electric North America, is the new chair for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association board of governors. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- You belong with who? Remember the drama over Taylor Swift's masters? (The pop star strongly objected to various male music executives' control of her music.) Mega-manager Scooter Braun's company sold the rights to Swift's first six albums to an investment fund for a deal valued around $300 million. Swift is not the buyer and is still planning to re-record her old music because of the ownership situation. Variety

- Michelle's take. Michelle Obama weighed in on the Trump-Biden transition-of-power situation. "The presidency doesn’t belong to any one individual or any one party. To pretend that it does, to play along with these groundless conspiracy theories—whether for personal or political gain—is to put our country’s health and security in danger," the former first lady wrote on Instagram. "This isn’t a game." Politico

- Pivot pays off. Was Rep. Elise Stefanik's pivot from GOP moderate to strong Trump supporter worth it? Her New York district is known as a bellwether—and now Stefanik herself is seen as a bellwether congresswoman, reflecting current trends in the Republican Party. The Atlantic 

ON MY RADAR

Lena Dunham: False labor, giving up on motherhood Harper's 

The pandemic is amplifying tensions between working moms and child-free colleagues Washington Post

The year of Thee Stallion GQ

PARTING WORDS

"I’ve never been able to be anyone but myself. ... The conclusion I’ve come to in the past 10 years is, well, I might as well just lean hard into who I am."

-Comedian and writer Rachel Bloom