Women lag behind men on feeling valued at work, new survey reveals

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A quarter (26 per cent) of global employees surveyed in the 2021 Culture Report on belonging at work, from Achievers Workforce Institute reported a strong sense of belonging in the workplace, but this number increases to nearly one-third for men (31 per cent) and just one in five (22 per cent) for women. 

The survey polled more than 3,500 employed respondents globally and found a strong sense of belonging correlated with higher engagement, job commitment, productivity, and more.

“The gender gap in belonging was the largest we found in our data analysis, showing that gender equality continues to be one of the biggest challenges for business leaders,” says Achievers Chief Workforce Scientist Dr. Natalie Baumgartner. “Women do not feel the same sense of belonging that men feel and this means they are less likely to be bringing their whole selves to work. This impacts productivity, engagement, commitment, and even feeling safe at work.”

Women trail men on almost every factor of belonging

From work-life balance to pay equity, when it comes to feeling known and being included, women consistently reported lower results than male respondents with respect to these belonging factors. Women were 25 per cent less likely to say they felt comfortable sharing a dissenting opinion and were 20 per cent less likely to say their unique background and identity were valued at their company.

“Employers need to focus their efforts on initiatives that can make women feel welcomed, known, included, supported, and connected at work,” Baumgartner says. “These five pillars of belonging, which all correlate positively and significantly with a stronger sense of belonging, create a clear call to action to business leaders. With millions of women leaving the workforce in the past 18 months, and women’s workplace participation hitting a 33-year low earlier this year, employers must concentrate on moving the needle in these key areas to ensure women feel as strong a sense of belonging as men and can thrive in the post-pandemic workplace.”

Even tactics known to help encourage belonging can create a gender divide when not implemented equitably. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are an effective way to ensure employees have a space that helps them feel known and valued. However, women were 24 per cent less likely than men to say their company had ERGs that help them feel connected. This points to a gap in organizations’ approach to supporting women.

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Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.