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What women really want at work

A recent survey conducted by WORK180, an Australian jobs network for women, asked women what they want from their employers in 2024.

With 769 predominantly female respondents aged between 26 and 46, the survey shed light on what it will take for businesses to retain female talent in the coming years. 

Flexible working remains the top priority among respondents, with three-quarters still valuing it over a top-of-market salary. Following closely are policies aimed at preventing sexual harassment and promoting pay transparency, occupying the second and third positions, respectively. Notably, members of Generation Z, expected to represent a significant portion of the workforce by 2025, strongly supported such measures. 69% of these respondents indicated they would be deterred from applying for roles with undisclosed or vague salaries.

Additionally, there was a notable demand for pay transparency and efforts to address the gender pay gap. 86% of respondents expressed a desire to know what actions employers are taking regarding pay equity, marking a 5% increase from the previous year. However, despite this concern, over half of those surveyed stated they would still consider roles at companies with poor gender pay gap records if the companies demonstrated commitment to rectifying the issue.

In a significant shift, the survey revealed the establishment of a menopause policy as a newfound priority among respondents. This may be attributed to the fact that approximately 25% of the workforce experiences menopause symptoms at any given time. The growing awareness of this issue within workplaces was highlighted by the popularity of resources on implementing menopause leave, with it being the most downloaded resource by employers on the WORK180 platform throughout 2023.

WORK180 co-founder and CEO Gemma Lloyd said that while the  progress toward gender parity had not regained pre-pandemic pace,  there had been significant strides toward progress for women in the  workforce. “Our findings from our survey and hands-on support of employers  through the last 12 months, prove the positive impact of an ongoing  commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI),” she said.  “Even organisations obliged by government legislation to reveal a poor gender pay gap this year can take comfort in the fact that 50 percent of respondents said they would still apply for positions with a company if they were able to prove their commitment to closing their pay gap.”

Lessons from 2023

Workplaces in 2024 are confronted with the challenge of attracting, nurturing, and retaining female talent. Acknowledging the progress made by many employers over the past year, a significant portion of respondents felt supported and proud of their company’s response to recent events. However, a closer look reveals disparities in satisfaction between those who feel supported and proud and those who do not. Notably, a substantial percentage of those who do not feel supported or proud are actively seeking new opportunities.

A key factor in employee satisfaction lies in the employer’s commitment to various initiatives, including flexibility in working arrangements, support for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, and efforts to close the gender pay gap. Employers who actively demonstrate their commitment to these initiatives often see higher levels of employee satisfaction and retention.

However, there are areas where employers have fallen short. Lack of clarity around company direction and career development opportunities, inadequate implementation of DEI initiatives, and restrictive flexible working policies have left some employees feeling undervalued and unsupported.

“This desire to level up is an unmissable opportunity for employers. Facilitating upward mobility will not only help increase representation at the leadership level, but also positively impact all layers of the organization when more marginalized communities see themselves represented as decision-makers. We strongly advise teams to take time to review their pipeline, reviewing whether their career development opportunities, leadership development, and succession planning is set up to truly aid and drive long-term diversity,” says Jessie Yu DEI Account Manager at WORK180.

Key Policies Women Seek in the Workplace

When it comes to workplace policies, they’re more than just words on paper; they reflect an employer’s values and priorities. For many candidates, these policies are a crucial factor in deciding whether a workplace aligns with their needs and values. In fact, 40% of women admit they’d reconsider applying to a role if a company kept its benefits and policy information hidden. This emphasis on transparency is why over one million people annually turn to our career platform.

So, what specific policies do women seek in a workplace? We posed this question and found some clear trends:

  • Flexible working policy: 71%
  • Zero-tolerance policy for preventing/addressing sexual harassment: 69%
  • Pay transparency: 62%
  • Policy for managing bullying: 61%
  • Anti-racism policy: 56%
  • An inclusive hiring policy: 56%
  • Non-gendered parental leave policy: 47%
  • Domestic and Family Violence policy: 47%
  • DEI Supply Chain Policy: 42%
  • Inclusive and gender-neutral dress code policies: 40%
  • Purchase leave policy: 39%
  • Menopause policy: 37%
  • Accessibility or accommodation policy: 36%
  • Gender affirmation policy: 32%

It’s crucial to recognize that the importance of these policies varies based on individual circumstances. For example, the significance of a menopause policy increases with age, while the need for inclusive dress codes may be more pronounced for those who have faced discrimination in the past.

Furthermore, it’s essential not to make assumptions about which policies matter to whom. Surprisingly, many respondents who aren’t parents or carers still prioritize flexible working and non-gendered parental leave policies.

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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