Why do women feel less valued at work than men? A new survey explores this in relation to career progression.
Our Top Employer Awards always brings up some interesting discussions. One of the speakers for our Q & A on embedding Diversity & Inclusion yesterday was Diana Parkes, founder of the Women’s Sat Nav to Success. She has been doing regular annual surveys of employees since 2017 and they always provide food for thought.
This year’s survey, conducted during the pandemic, is no different. One of the consistent things that the survey measures is the contribution to value gap, that is, the degree to which employees feel their contribution is valued. While this year’s survey shows women feel significantly less valued throughout organisations compared to men, that gap widens particularly when women reach middle management, with men noting a 3% gap and women a 27% gap [at senior management level that gap drops to 18% compared to 2% for men].
The survey also notes a big rise in the contribution to value gap for part-time women – less than a third of part-time women feel consistently valued [compared to 48% of full-time women and 58% of full-time men].
The survey highlights the impact of the contribution to value gap on progression and inner confidence [with women showing higher levels of outer confidence than men, but significantly lower inner confidence compared with men at management level] as well as motivation to progress after knockbacks, despite women being more likely to proactively pitch for significant opportunities. Not surprisingly, women’s feelings about whether the organisational culture has a positive impact on their motivation to progress fall as they progress, with women being six times less likely than men to feel the culture motivates them to progress.
So what works? Well, certainly changing the culture so that all people in an organisation feel their contributions are valued, most particularly at middle management level, which often coincides with when people take on parental responsibilities. There is also a lot of work to be done on valuing part-time workers. Why not ask them what they think and what might make them feel more valued? Are they regularly left out of discussions, overlooked for interesting projects, do they miss out on training and development opportunities and so forth?
From the survey there is also interesting data on other factors that could be addressed. For instance, the data shows that women respond better to sponsorship than men. Other studies have reinforced how sponsorship can help women to progress. Another aspect of the picture is, of course, the sharing of domestic duties such as childcare. The survey shows women are more likely to be motivated to progress if they share these duties more equally so greater attention to policies around dads – many of whom, particularly the younger ones, want to contribute more at home – seems a win win all round.