A 2018 PwC report on women and workplace states that "Equality can’t remain a work in progress; it must become work for progress."
Now that the ‘celebrations’ around International Women’s Day are done and dusted, let’s talk business.
What has to change for women at work? That’s the subject of a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report titled, Time to Talk, that says that though even women are more confident and ambitious than ever, “employers need to work harder to address issues of gender equality in the workplace and empower female advancement.”
The study focuses on three main areas that organisations and leaders should address if they truly want to lead their organisations to growth and success in this era of automation and tech advancements:
- Transparency and trust matter. A lot.
- Support networks and advocacy go a long way. Women need strategic support.
- Challenges with balancing life, family care, and work. There are grave concerns regarding flexibility and motherhood penalties.
“The 2018 survey of 3,627 professional women from around the world tells this story of determination, hope and frustration. But it also gives a clear indication of three key essential elements that business leaders must focus on to advance gender equality and help women’s career advancement as they lead their enterprises into the 21st century,” the study states.
Though 82 percent of women are confident in their ability to fulfill their career aspirations, only 60 percent said their managers support them.
Working women not only want mentoring and support, they’d rather also have transparency, and the survey found that 58 percent women say that employers should provide greater transparency to improve their career prospects.
Disappointingly, though not surprisingly at all, 48 percent of new mothers returning to work felt overlooked for promotions and special projects.
The survey found that “there is a new fearlessness and urgency to address the challenges women face, including, but not limited to, the possibility of discrimination and harassment, and the slow progress in bridging the gender gap.”
In its earlier survey of CEOs, it was reported that though the top business leaders were optimistic about growth, “yet more than one-third (38 percent) are extremely concerned about talent shortages, a threat to their success that is second only to cybersecurity.”
“In 2015 MSCI, a financial research firm, analysed more than 4,200 companies and found that return on equity was 2.7 percent higher for those with strong female leadership, and these companies were less prone to governance-related controversies. Women’s voices on teams, especially those that span cultures and functions, have been shown to increase emotional commitment, which leads the teams to push harder for success,” the report states.
An interesting point to note is that the ‘Working Mother 2017 list of the top 100 companies to work for in the US’ bases its scores on a combination of criteria, including gender balance data, and professional and personal support programmes across the woman’s career lifecycle.
None of the best companies scores close to 100 percent in all categories. One company may offer generous parental leave but score low on career development programmes. Another might offer mentorship but no flexibility in working arrangements. “These metrics are increasingly recognised as indicators of the day-to-day problems women encounter when trying to build a career and raise a family at the same time,” states the study.
The study spoke to women between the ages 28 and 40 when they are at the point in their working lives where the gender gap begins to widen dramatically.
This quote pretty much sums up the challenges women continue to face in the workplace:
“Women need to prove they deserve a promotion; men are promoted because they believe in their potential.”
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