It isn’t news that women are leaving corporate jobs at vastly higher rates than men. Many are flocking to other opportunities because of flexibility, deeper purpose and to be free of biased office politics. At the same time, the Fortune 500 is a record number of women in leadership at 10%.
This begs the question, what’s next week for women in the workplace?
While there is no one size fits all strategy to engage women at work, there are proven strategies that can engage, retain and attract more women into the workplace.
Corporate needs to meet women where they are at through improved flexibility, removing barriers to corpora
Strategy #1: More flexibility
In the U.S., 66% of primary caregivers are women. This means that the burden of household tasks largely falls on women. Women do on average six hours more a week in household labor. While this warrants a conversation about fair play, the reality is that women need more flexibility in their work.
Women and most caregivers want a schedule that works for them, but that doesn’t mean they work fewer hours — they work when they’re available. That might mean working after-school drop-offs, on the weekends, or late in the evening once the kids have gone to bed. This results in higher productivity and quality of work when women decide when and where they work.
Strategy #2: Free the workplace of biased office politics
Workplaces were largely designed by men for men to succeed. Until the recent shift during the pandemic, the workplace very much resembled the Mad Men era of the 1960s. The ideal worker who’s always on, says yes to everything and answers emails right away is revered in corporate America.
While these behaviors might be important sometimes, actual work production and results are far more important than these behaviors. Yet, data shows that promotions tend to fall on those that we believe to be fully committed and put their professional lives before their personal lives. Not only is this unhealthy, but it also definitely doesn’t work for women or any humans for that matter long-term.
Strategy #3: Work with a deep purpose
In our research, women often say the No. 1 attribute of what they’re looking for in their work is purpose. They want to feel compelled by the mission of the organization and understand that they’re helping make the world a better place. This might seem universal to humans, yet women are less wavering in doing work that doesn’t matter to them personally.
Women will continue to remain in the driver’s seat with labor shortages and steady economic growth. Unless organizations meet women where they are, they risk alienating a key part of their workforce and customer base.
Julie Kratz is a highly-acclaimed TEDx speaker and inclusive leadership trainer who led teams and produced results in corporate America. After experiencing many career “pivot points” of her own, she started her own speaking business with the goal of helping leaders be more inclusive. Promoting diversity, inclusion, and allyship in the workplace, Julie helps organizations foster more inclusive environments. She is a frequent keynote speaker, podcast host, and executive coach. She holds an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, is a Certified Master Coach, and is a certified unconscious bias trainer.
Her books include Pivot Point: How to Build a Winning Career Game Plan, ONE: How Male Allies Support Women for Gender Equality, and Lead Like an Ally: A Journey Through Corporate America with Strategies to Facilitate Inclusion, Allyship in Action: 10 Practices for Living Inclusively and her children’s books The Little Allies and Charlotte Wants a BFF.