Hybrid Working Creates Two-Track Office, BOE Official Says
The Bank of England’s Catherine Mann said that the hybrid model of work could widen the gender gap by opening “two tracks” -- those in the office and people who remain at home.
Being seen in person is an important way for people to build careers and working remotely makes that visibility more difficult, Mann said at a virtual meeting about women working in finance. She added that the pandemic left more women at home because of child-care issues.
“I do worry that we will see those two tracks developed,” said Mann, a former Citigroup Inc. global chief economist who joined the BOE’s Monetary Policy Committee in September. “We pretty much know who’s going to be on which track, unfortunately.”
The central bank is surveying staff and committee members after some of its most critical hybrid policy meetings, to gauge views on whether they felt they had equal opportunity to contribute, regardless of their location, Mann said. The broader issue is how to create an online equivalent to the informal conversations that come up naturally in the office.
“Physical presence does matter,” she said. “We are not at the point where we can really have a ‘water-cooler conversation’ in a virtual setting.”
Mann added that it was important that individuals as well as institutions recognize the challenges of women’s life cycles, such as child-bearing and menopause, and their impact on work.
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