Women have made great strides in improving their position in various aspects of life, including education and the workforce. However, women still face obstacles and realities in the workplace that are often overlooked or misunderstood.
Women’s realities in the workplace
According to a LinkedIn survey, the percentage of women employed in leadership positions increased from 34% in 2015 to 45% in 2022. Despite this advancement, men are still 26% more likely to be promoted to leadership roles than women.
When women attain leadership positions, it was hoped that the playing field would be leveled but in reality, women still face pay gaps compared to their counterparts.
Women leaders often encounter obstacles that make it harder for them to advance in their careers. They frequently experience microaggressions and inadequate recognition of their contributions. Therefore, many women leaders are now seeking employment with companies that prioritize DEI, employee well-being, and workplace flexibility.
According to World Economic Forum (2021), even in the social entrepreneurship and non-profit field, women leaders face discrimination and challenges navigating a male-dominated industry. They often experience appearance-based discrimination, and lack of decision-making power in group settings, and find it more difficult to fundraise and network than their male colleagues. These obstacles are compounded when women face additional discrimination based on factors such as race, indigenous background, or disability.
Furthermore, a study conducted by Harappa revealed that women are not trusted in Profit and Loss (P&L) roles. Even though women can generate revenue, they are still not trusted to spend it wisely which creates a more damaging gap.
What Women Leaders Want
Harappa revealed that 82% of women want to advance their careers. The study also showed that women in leadership positions place a high value on their earning potential, while those in individual contributor roles prioritize achieving a healthy work-life balance. These findings suggest that senior leaders may increasingly focus on making a long-term impact or driving social change.
Additionally, there are certain non-negotiable factors that women consider crucial for career advancement. At the top of the list, with 93% agreement, is having a supportive family or spouse. This is closely followed by self-determination and resilience, as well as corporate interventions.
What can Companies do?
On this matter, more organizations should push for an inclusive and equitable workplace that benefits everyone.
McKinsey (2022) suggests that companies should offer practical training to support their teams, flexible work arrangements, and health benefits for women which can enhance workforce productivity.
Companies can identify the key areas where women are most underrepresented in the promotion pipeline and ensure that both men and women have equal opportunities for advancement. The process should be continuously monitored for fairness, and any biases in the evaluation process should be identified and eliminated.
In addition, they should encourage women to take on challenging and stretched assignments and provide them with the support and resources they need to succeed.
Having a diverse and inclusive workforce can promote higher employee engagement, leading to increased financial returns and market share which could lead to retaining top talent.
Pushing for a gender-balanced workplace can help create a more inclusive workplace culture, where all employees feel valued and respected, regardless of their gender.