Only working from home could damage women’s careers: Aviva boss Amanda Blanc warns against men dominating the return to the office
- Mothers could miss out if they are at their desks less often than their male peers
- Blanc’s comments came as millions of workers return to the office
- She warned against women failing to return to the office while men do
- That means making sure women can get back in, the FTSE business leader said
Women’s careers could be damaged if they continue to work from home, the boss of one of the City’s biggest institutions has warned.
As increasing numbers return to the office following the end of Covid restrictions, Aviva chief executive Amanda Blanc said working mothers who take on the brunt of childcare duties could miss out if they are at their desks less often than their male peers.
Calling for an end to the ‘hokey-cokey’ in-out working-from-home guidance, the mother-of-two said: ‘If what you see is that all the men come back to the office and the women don’t, then obviously the women are not going to be around when some of the conversations are being had and they’re going to miss out on opportunities.
‘So that’s what I’m calling out – I don’t want that to happen. We know that the progression of women in financial services is simply not good enough – women are not moving into more senior roles quickly enough.
‘We just need to make sure that, in the way that we work, we don’t jeopardise women’s opportunities.’
Warning: Amanda Blanc said working mothers who take on the brunt of childcare duties could miss out if they are at their desks less often than their male peers
The comments came as millions of workers return to the office following the lifting of Covid restrictions.
Several leading City institutions are hauling their staff back in.
A briefing note from one team at investment bank JP Morgan, seen by the Mail, said staff must be in the office for three days, including a Monday or Friday. This would stop many workers being at their desks on their preferred days of just Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Goldman Sachs has also asked its 6,500 London staff to head back in, and rival Citigroup is expecting staff to be in ‘at least three days a week’.
Blanc said her staff were expected to be in the office three days a week.
She told the BBC: ‘I’m really keen that we do have some physical presence in the office, even though I think the way we work in the office will be different to how it was pre-Covid.’
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former leader of the Tory party, said: ‘There’s a whole ecosystem in Britain’s town and city centres that depends on people working in them. If people don’t come in for work, it won’t be there for their social activities. There are a lot of people who depend on jobs in bars, restaurants, shops. If workers don’t go back into their offices, this ecosystem won’t survive.’
Many firms are cautiously easing their office workers back into their commute, pushing staff to be in just three days a week. Blanc has previously spoken about a ‘motherhood penalty’, which many women face in their career after returning from maternity leave.
Blanc: ‘Ditch EU pension rules to unlock billions’
The Government must ditch EU rules which restrict where pension funds can invest, the boss of Aviva has urged.
Amanda Blanc said Chancellor Rishi Sunak should scrap so-called Solvency II regulations, which limit the types of assets which pension funds can hold.
This could unlock billions of pounds to invest in areas such as renewable energy plants, improved transport systems and nascent industries, she said. Solvency II was introduced to ensure the safety of investors’ money, and make sure their pensions were protected in the case of a downturn. But Aviva continually performed stress tests and had plenty of capital to cover a crisis.