Women in the Workforce

It’s that time of year again. Equal Pay Day. This day represents how far into the year women must work to earn what White men earned in the previous year. And while the day has moved up on the calendar since its conception on April 11, 1996, the fact remains that women in the workforce are still making less than their male counterparts. Eighty-two cents per their dollar, to be exact. The Hoosier state comes in at No. 13 out of 50 on the biggest wage pay gaps in America. 

So why should every company be concerned about this issue? One word—retention.  

In the wake of a global pandemic and a racial reckoning, the “Great Resignation” was born. Employees were leaving en masse. The nation’s “quit rate” reached a 20-year high. 

Now fast forward to today. 

Women specifically are sparking the “Great Breakup.” The latest McKinsey & Company Women in the Workplace report coined the phrase to describe the fact that more women leaders are switching roles to jobs that meet their needs. Leadership is more than a C-suite title on a business card. Women are thought leaders and change leaders. They do the work that propels your business forward. 

And that important work is at stake.  

Reasons for the Breakup 

Women are made to feel “less than.” 

According to the report, women leaders are twice as likely as men leaders to be mistaken for someone more junior. For Black women, this number is nearly triple. The report also says that women are much more likely to have their judgment questioned than their male counterparts. Microaggressions such as these can negatively impact careers as they are related to increased burnout and less job satisfaction. So emotionally, women are feeling less than, while at the same time, literally earning less than men in the workplace.  

Women aren’t supported. 

The “broken rung” describes the phenomenon where women in the workforce in entry-level positions achieve promotions to managerial positions at much lower rates than men. For every 100 men promoted from entry-level to manager, only 87 women and 82 women of color are promoted. The lack of support in the early phases of a woman’s career prolongs the time them to reach pay parity with men.  

Women are finding that their values clash with their work. 

More than ever, women in the workplace are prioritizing company culture factors like flexibility, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) commitments and well-being services. This idea is especially true for young women. Seventy-six percent of women under 30 say that flexibility at work is a top priority, and 41 percent stated that a commitment to DEI is crucial. With Millennials making up the largest portion of the workforce and Gen Z now entering the workforce, companies struggle to retain top talent when they don’t embed these factors into their company culture.  

Ways to Make the Relationship with Women Workers Thrive 

Affirm women.   

One of the top three reasons women leave is because they’re under-recognized. According to the report, 37% of women leaders have had a coworker get credit for their idea, compared to 27% of men leaders. Uplift the accomplishments and ideas of women. In the Teams chat. On social media. During the performance review. And when they’re not in the room—especially in the boardroom. 

Make time for the important things 

Building pay equity into organizational culture, like any other DEI strategy, requires commitment from leadership and ongoing policies and practices embedded throughout the organization. Do pay equity audits on a routine basis. Be transparent with salary expectations for all roles. While Indiana has not adopted pay transparency policies like Colorado and California, Women’s Fund of Central Indiana has committed to listing salary expectations on all job postings.  

Compromise is key. 

The pandemic changed things—permanently. During Zoom meetings, your employees got used to business on top and a pajama party on the bottom. For 49% of women leaders, flexibility is one of the top three things they consider when deciding whether to join or stay with a company, compared to 34% of men leaders. Increasingly, workers are looking for flexible work arrangements that allow for a successful work/life balance, making necessities like caregiving, doctors appointments and even rest, easier.   

There’s no perfect formula for relationships, but you must consciously try to improve them. Instead of waiting another 365 days—hopefully, less next year—companies must commit to assessing their policies and practices to improve women’s lives today. Women in the workforce are refusing to settle for anything less than improvement. Because, as Queen Bee put it, “you won’t break my soul.” And women clearly have the motivation to find a new salvation—new companies, that is—if their current ones aren’t looking to propel equity forward.   


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