Mixed picture for women at work

A new Deloitte survey shows women feel less able to talk about mental and reproductive health issues than they were last year, but are more likely to feel included at work if they work a hybrid pattern.

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A growing number of women feel uncomfortable talking about their mental and reproductive health challenges in the workplace, according to a new Deloitte Global report which also finds improvements in inclusion for hybrid workers as well as lower levels of burnout.

The report, ‘Women @ Work: A global outlook’, now in its third year, surveyed 5,000 women in 10 countries, including 500 working women in the UK, to better understand the experiences of women in the workplace.

For the first time the report covered menstruation and menopause and found women in the UK experiencing challenges related to menopause are more likely than their global counterparts to work through pain without taking time off (30% in the UK compared to 20% of global respondents).

Deloitte also reports a significant decline in the number of respondents who feel comfortable talking about mental health in the workplace: only 28% of UK respondents feel comfortable talking about it at work, compared to 45% last year, although women are less likely to report burnout than in 2022 and less likely to experience harassment and microaggressions at work.

When it comes to flexible working, the study found that 43% of women with hybrid work arrangements are experiencing exclusion from meetings, decisions or informal interactions and 33% say they don’t have enough access to senior leaders, but these were significantly down on last year’s statistics [nearly 60% of women felt excluded in 2022 and 45% said they doid’t have enough access to senior leaders]. The number of women expected to be in the office was up, however.

Meanwhile, more women worldwide have left their jobs in the past 12 months than in 2021 and 2020 combined (18% globally and 18% in the UK), and lack of flexibility is among the top reasons cited.

Yet those with flexible work arrangements said that they plan to stay longer with their employers than those without (39% compared to 27%). Flexibility is a top deciding factor for women who have recently left an employer (17%) and for women who are considering leaving their current employer (25%). Nevertheless, 97% of women believe that asking for flexible work arrangements could adversely impact their chances of promotion at work and 95% feel their
workloads won’t be adjusted accordingly.

When it comes to sharing household tasks, 43% reported that they are solely responsible for tasks, while 20% reported an equal split of responsibility, 13% with their partner, 4% with a family member of friend and 20% through paid help.
Factors outside of the workplace also take their toll as women in the UK cite financial security as their top concern (62%), closely followed by women’s rights (60%) and their mental health (58%), with 40% of women in the UK reporting feeling unable to switch off from work.

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