New research from Perceptyx indicates women’s progress in the workplace is at risk; more challenges loom as organizations craft return-to-work plans
Perceptyx, the leading employee listening and people analytics platform, released a new report, “The Gender Gap Widens: Three Critical Actions Required to Support Women in the Workplace.” The new research points to the continuing effects of the pandemic on women’s careers and highlights three key factors organizations must address to mitigate future impacts on their goals for gender equity and inclusion. These include: preparing to accept fewer women in the physical workplace, taking steps to minimize promotion and compensation bias, and laying the groundwork to ensure talented women are retained.
The numbers are clear: women have been impacted significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, from job security concerns, closures and cutbacks, to increased caregiving responsibilities and other unpaid, informal labor that has landed on their shoulders. It’s estimated that women lost more than 5 million jobs in 2020 alone.
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“To-date, the damage the pandemic has had on women in the workplace has been significant, and unfortunately our data shows again and again that this effect isn’t declining as we look towards getting back to normal,” said Brett Wells, Ph.D., Director of People Analytics at Perceptyx. “Instead, our research indicates the gender gap will widen even further if the realities organizations face aren’t acknowledged and addressed. Women have fundamentally changed the way they want to work. It’s critical these desires be taken into account as organizations make plans to get their employees back into the office.”
Perceptyx surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. employees about their workplaces and their preferences for returning to a physical work environment. Key findings include:
- Compared to six months ago, 48% of women have become either much less or somewhat less likely to want to return to the physical workplace full-time.
- Roughly 24% of both women and men would prefer to adopt a hybrid working arrangement after COVID-19. Men, however, intend to spend 3-4 days per week in the physical workplace, whereas women intend to spend only 2-3 days per week.
- While the same number of men and women hope to return to the workplace full-time post-pandemic (35%), pre-pandemic, 62% of women were in a physical workplace full-time, compared with 57% of men, indicating a greater drop-off for women.
The new report also dives into some of the specific areas organizations need to be cognizant of based on these new trends. For example:
- Sourcing has traditionally been an opportunity to increase parity among gender groups. Open positions that are posted as physical-workspace-only will likely receive fewer female applicants post-pandemic, and the natural result will be fewer women in the workplace.
- Out of sight cannot mean out of mind. Perceived impacts are already taking hold for those working remotely; 40% have seen a decline when it comes to the frequency of performance reviews, recognition, promotions, and raises. Each time women miss a chance for promotion, the funnel narrows.
- Recognize that different factors motivate women and men to stay or leave their current employers. In an earlier study of more than 750,000 employees across more than 100 global enterprises, Perceptyx found that women are most driven to leave an organization when they aren’t empowered to make their own decisions about how to best accomplish their work.
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“When we look at all these factors—fewer women in the physical workplace, the effect of working remotely on recognition and promotions, and challenges in retaining talented women—there is real concern this could result in a notable regression of the inroads women have made into executive suites and boardrooms over the past few decades,” continued Wells. “Many organizations spent 2020 more worried about retaining jobs than employees, but as things return to normal, understanding the drivers of voluntary turnover through people analytics and making the necessary adjustments should be a top priority.”
With another year of remote working looming, and most organizations postponing their return to work plans, now is the time to make sure these plans include goals for maintaining gender balance in the workplace.
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