When you're a woman trying to ~climb that ladder~ at work, there is a constant nagging feeling to "prove" yourself — one that I've kind of equated to Taylor Swift singing, "Are we out of the woods yet, are we out of the woods yet, are we out of the woods?" Because surely you think that at some point, once you have passed hurdles x, y, and z, you don't have to worry about the gender gap in the workplace nearly as much as you did starting out. Well, best stay alert — turns out women at the senior level face a gender gap in ways subtler than you might think.
A survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group that involved 345,000 participants at 36 different major companies indicated that, compared to their male peers, women in senior positions in companies with less engagement overall disproportionately experienced a gender gap a result. It was measurable across four categories that were largely agreed upon as the four most important factors in a workplace: appreciation, work-life balance, relations with colleagues, and mentorship. Despite the importance of appreciation, senior women in lower engagement companies reported receiving a lot less of it than men. In work-life balance, men reported that as they rose up in a company, senior management seemed to show more of an interest in their lives outside of the company and flexibility in accommodating them, whereas women actually reported less interest and flexibility. As far as relations with colleagues, women reported fewer feelings of trust and support in lower engagement companies as they rose to senior levels, when men experienced the opposite. And finally, as far as mentorship, while women in junior positions found their superiors to be fulfilling mentors, women in senior positions were significantly less satisfied.
The study examined and found similar gender discrepancies in pay, the quality of the job, and attitude and understanding of the company's objectives — all of which were more pronounced between men and women at the senior level.
Again, this was markedly more of a problem with companies that reported lower engagement overall — and as the study notes, engagement is crucial to a company's overall success. So how can we go about solving this issue in lower engagement companies? The first step, of course, is to recognize that a company is not doing an adequate job of engaging its employees across the seven factors the study focused on — and taking deliberate measures to improve for all employees across the board.
"Senior level women want to be paid well, enjoy their work, feel connected, express their opinions, and see that senior executives are living the company's values," the authors of the study concluded. "By taking steps to improve in these areas, companies can increase the success and happiness of women in senior management positions and promote more women into the C-Suite — a move that will increase overall staff engagement. Helping women become more engaged at work is not just good for women; our research shows that it is good for everyone."