Women cannot succeed in corporate environments due to lack of flexible working

I went to a roundtable meeting hosted by Microsoft this week, aimed at discussing the challenges women in business face.

Various female panellists were there, including Tanya Shirlow, head of SMB at Microsoft UK; Bindi Karia, head of Microsoft’s BizSpark programme; Sangeeta Sidhu, CEO and founder of Nosh Detox Delivery; Marie-Claude Hemming, policy advisor for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Gillian Nissim, founder of Working Mums.

A lot of conversation surrounded juggling work life with being a mother.

Ex-lawyer Sangeeta Sidhu felt women could not succeed in a corporate environment due to the lack of flexible working on offer, which caused her to leave her corporate job and set up her own business.  

I got some interesting responses on Twitter from male IT professionals about this, saying succeeding in a corporate environment is a male issue just as much a female one and that flexible working is often a problem in the public sector as much as the private.

[One tweet suggested we debate a more important issue: whether women understand the offside rule.]

Gillian Nissim said primary care of a family more often than not falls on the mother rather than the father.

So is flexible working a more important issue for women with families than men? And should the government introduce regulations about flexible working to support that?

Regardless, Marie-Claude Hemming from the FSB said broadband will be crucial for flexible working, and until the government roll it out across the country [it’s delayed until 2015], women working in rural areas will struggle to work flexibly at all.

What are your thoughts?