Genuinely flexible working opportunities trump pay when it comes to what women most want from an employer.
That’sthe verdict from more than 800 responses we received to our most recent survey asking what women really want from employers in 2019, in partnership with The Leadership Institute, ahead of their 4th annual Women in Leadership Summit coming up in September.
So what do women want?
When presented with six common employment incentives, women overwhelmingly ranked ‘genuinely flexible working opportunities’ as their number one priority.
It came ahead of a ‘competitive salary’, which was listed as the first incentive by just 28% of respondents.
And although salary will always be compelling factor when it comes to deciding whether to take up on a role with an employer. Women also tended to highly rate having a diverse leadership team, flexible and clear working opportunities, as well as a compelling company purpose.
‘Bad management’ is the leading barrier preventing women from succeeding in a job or progressing in their careers; with almost nine in ten respondents stating this had held them back.
Women also reported high incidence of workplace bullying, with more than 52% reporting this has negatively affected them. More than one in five women said sexual harassment had gotten in the way of their progression. One third of women have also been affected by pay discrimination and general discrimination.
Proving a strong desire for flexible work again, 52% of respondents said a lack of flexible work has hampered their career progression.
Majority for Quotas
Respondents to the survey overwhelmingly support quotas for getting more women into leadership positions. More than half of respondents said they would support a 50 per cent female quota for the boards of ASX 200 organisations.
Even more women support a 50 per cent quota for female leadership at companies with more than 100 employees.
In findings that suggest women desire purposeful and ethical work, we found more than half of those surveyed would be willing to take a salary cut to work for an organisation with proven social, community and environmental commitments.
What can employers do?
We put this question to women asking for short answers as to the one thing they would like to see their workplaces doing and the responses were many and varied.
Here are some of the key ideas offered:
- Equal pay. Women called for this over and over again
- Make progression happen for part time staff
- Offer clear support for reporting harassment and bullying
- Have a visible plan for achieving gender equality
- Flexible work
- Subsidised and flexible childcare
- Bro culture? Cut it
- Gender neutral parental leave
- Stop penalising mothers and those who’ve taken career breaks
- Support women in middle management
Judging by the fact ‘genuine flexible work’ came up in multiple questions in this research as the key factor women believe would help them at work, it seems the rhetoric regarding flexible work is not matching up to the reality.
Employers must consider what more they can do to shift structures in order to help women thrive, and to end penalties associated with motherhood, career breaks or needing to take on caring responsibilities outside of work.
You can see our full report on the findings here.