Flexible working could be the solution for businesses struggling to recruit women into senior roles, according to a new study by Zurich Insurance Group AG.

Applications for management roles by women jumped 20% after the insurer advertised all possible positions with part-time, job share or flexible working options as part of research with the U.K. government’s Behavioural Insight Team. The number of women hired for senior jobs jumped by one third as a direct result, it said Tuesday.

The study -- which was conducted before Covid-19 prompted widespread lockdowns across Europe -- shows how the more flexible working approach many firms have adopted during the pandemic could boost gender-balanced career progression.

Despite increasing economic participation in recent years, women are still more likely to undertake the majority of domestic and caring responsibilities. That is often cited as underlying the lower proportion of female workers in the highest levels of business and the fact that on average men earn more.

The initiative doesn’t just benefit women though. Applications by both male and female candidates more than doubled after the options were offered, Zurich said.

“It clearly shows it’s not just women who have other responsibilities, whether it be a sport or caring responsibilities, that people want a bit more flexible work capacity to do,” Alison Martin, chief executive officer of Zurich EMEA, said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio.