Be confident and choose companies that believe in you to thrive in flexible roles

A smiling woman sits at a desk in an open plan office
March 12, 2021

We felt privileged this week to welcome three big names to the virtual room to woo our exceptional candidates at our first Careers Summit! This was our way of celebrating the ‘choose to challenge’ theme of International Women’s Day 2021.

PwC, Simmons & Simmons and GymShark left us all with the overriding feeling that belief is everything. That is, if you back yourself as talented individuals and are trusted by your employer, you can pursue the career you deserve on flexible terms. 

Juliet Turnbull, CEO and Founder of 2to3days said: 

"Companies are hungry for experienced hires and they are transforming the way they recruit. Believe in yourselves, your skillset and your knowledge and apply for roles in companies that have truly flexible cultures of trust and support."

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Working flexibly at PwC

One of the world’s leading financial services firms, PwC, has been on a flexible working journey for four years, now offering ‘Everyday Flexibility’ to more than 22,000  UK staff. 

Marisa Williams, who heads up PwC’s flexible talent network, is on a personal mission to challenge the thoughts, perceptions and processes at PwC to drive flexible, inclusive recruitment. 

Marisa said: 

"Flexibility is part of our DNA at PwC. Everyday Flexibility gives everyone the right to choose how, when and where they work from day one. We are challenging and educating the business all the time, flying the flag and explaining the approach to hiring managers, the resourcing team and the wider recruitment team."

Marisa said that the approach has moved from 'culture fit' to 'culture enhancement,' recognising the untapped talent pool of individuals who might not want to work full time but have the skills and potential to do great things. 

Caroline Bevan, Partner at PwC, shared the appeal of working for a multidisciplinary firm. After 21 years there, she has worked in audit, tax, started up new businesses within PwC and most recently has created and opened a new office in Watford. 

Caroline realised that her priorities had changed after her first child and knew that she had to negotiate a new contract with a formal, flexible working arrangement. She wanted her career, but not at any cost. She was trusted to make it work and she did, rising to Partner level and having three children along the way.

Q: What barriers have you found to pursuing your career and how have you overcome these?

Marisa: The biggest barrier for me was my own mind and allowing other people’s perceptions to question my confidence. Keep staying focused and trusting yourself. You don’t have to be perfect. Nothing ever is. Just do it.

Caroline: I definitely think the biggest challenge is within myself. It’s empowering to hear how many people recognise feelings of imposter syndrome. Talk to others and seek support. If you’re in a cycle where you’re lacking confidence, don’t forget to reach out and speak to others.

Q: What should you do if your CV doesn’t exactly fit the role you want, or you need flexible working?

Marisa: Any PwC role advertised on 2to3days is flexible. We look for values and skills including transferable skills, for example leadership, relationship building, or inclusivity. We look at it in a holistic way. Back yourself!

Q: If I’m going to work flexibly at PwC, will I have to work late nights and all day at weekends to make up the time?

Caroline: There are lots of times you have to go the extra mile for your clients, but I became very efficient after having my first child. It is within your own gift to strike a balance that’s right for you. You’ll be busy, but you’ll be able to do it.

Flexible legal careers at Simmons & Simmons

Simmons & Simmons is a collaborative and diverse firm that solves complex legal challenges on behalf of their clients. This international legal practice with 22 offices and more than 1,500 people is so proud of its approach to flexible working that they founded a business arm, Adaptive - a flexible resourcing service for legal consultants and business service professionals. 

The legal industry has been slow to catch up with flexible working models, but is going through a rapid transformation. It traditionally loses high numbers of women who don’t want to work long legal hours to the detriment of their families. 

Simmons & Simmons launched Adaptive in 2014 to solve resourcing challenges for their clients after realising they were losing the chance to work with exceptional legal talent who wanted to work flexibly.

Sarah Thompson, Head of Adaptive, said: 

"We’ve seen a real shift in attitude. People are buying into the idea that you can be a lawyer, be flexible and have a portfolio career."

The law firm regularly hears from clients seeking top-up talent as businesses are forced to work in a more streamlined way, and the sad but inevitable increase in mental health issues leaves teams under-resourced.

Q: Why would a lawyer want to work for Simmons & Simmons Adaptive?

Sarah: Consultants want greater control over how they balance work and family life without compromising their careers. They get greater flexibility, greater choice and can enjoy a portfolio career. Some people use it as a sidestep at a particular point in their lives. Working in the interim market is a good way to build skills and experience.

Our consultants are non-exclusive and can accept work from us and elsewhere. We support them through the whole lifecycle. They work in a variety of ways and come from all kinds of law firms, some with foreign qualifications and after career breaks. 

Q: What do clients want from part-time lawyers?

Sarah: Clients are looking for people who can hit the ground running, have a great attitude and are team players. They are more flexible on the skill set than they would be for a permanent hire. 

Q: What should you do if you’re a lawyer who has had a career break?

Sarah: Don’t let a five or 10-year career break put you off. Talk to us and investigate all our free events, podcasts and webinars to build your knowledge and confidence. We’re human beings and we like to connect!

Gymshark: flexibility in product and culture

Founded by Ben Francis in his parents’ garage in 2012, Britain’s fastest growing gym apparel brand Gymshark is now valued at more than $1 billion, giving it 'unicorn' status. 

At Gymshark, culture is their number one priority, and when they say flexible, they really mean it. They trust people to get work done in a way that suits them and their team. With 56% of staff being women, and womenswear their biggest selling lines, the company has a keen eye on diversity and inclusion and they closely monitor gender and ethnicity based pay markers. The ‘fail fast’ mentality ensures that everyone learns and moves on from mistakes, adding to the dynamic culture. 

There are flexible opportunities across Gymshark, in tech, data, finance, legal, ops, people, commercial, brand and creative, product and innovation.

What’s more, Lee-Ann Hearn, Gymshark Talent manager promises that you don’t have to be a gym bunny or love protein shakes to work there. With values of family, transparency, trust, accessibility, care, inclusion and disruption, you won’t be surprised to read that they look for high-trust individuals and offer maximum flexibility and minimum constraints. 

Lee-Ann said: 

"We trust our people to get their work done in a way that suits them and their team. We want women to apply for our roles. We hire lovely, nice, warm people. We’d love to talk to you about our opportunities."

Before COVID hit, Gymshark was already focused on life balance with an onsite hairdresser and gym. A rapid adoption of working from home during COVID saw line managers help people work out how they could balance caring and homeschool responsibilities, encouraging flexibility of hours to suit individual needs. 

Parents share tips and tricks on a dedicated Slack channel, as do gamers and pet owners; virtual tea breaks ensure everyone stays connected and fitness coaches offer online sessions throughout the day. There is a career mentoring system for women and HSBC runs financial drop-in clinics for all.

Q: How do you manage the conflict between work at home life at Gymshark?

Liz Thompson, Chief Legal Officer: The family first philosophy is genuine. If I can’t join a meeting because of a school run, or can’t do an overnight because my sons are going back to school after a long break, I’ve never been judged. Women put themselves under so much pressure but I’ve had nothing but support. I’m very grateful for that. Be confident in yourself.

Emma Brundrett, VP of People EMEA and ROW: I live 65 miles away so I arrive when I arrive and I leave at the time I need to. I have never been questioned if I can’t be at a meeting due to a Christmas concert, or am offline at a certain time to collect children. I have been on calls in the school playground and I log back on in the evening. I’m driven by what works for me and my family. 


Thanks for reading, and please do join us at our next event, How to write the perfect CV on Wednesday, March 17th 2021 at 12:30pm.

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Our purpose is to accelerate gender equality in the workplace through the power of flexible working...