A Look at the Deloitte Women @ Work 2023 Report
Deloitte released the Women @ Work: A Global Outlook report, which sheds light on the current state of the workplace for women across ten countries. It shows how the modern workplace is faring when it comes to helping women be seen, heard, and succeed.
The report covers different factors affecting women and their performance at work, including mental and physical health, women’s rights, roles in the household, flexibility, inclusivity, and more.
Mental Health Stigma Still Prevalent
According to the 2023 report, the number of women workers who feel burnt out has declined from 46% in 2022 to 28% this year. There was also a slight increase in the number of women who rated their mental health as “good.” However, a third of the respondents still give their mental health a “poor” rating.
These numbers show signs of improvement, but there’s work to do. Burnout, stress, and overall mental wellness are still causes of concern for many women. And it’s a strong call for employers to provide adequate mental health resources for their employees. And based on the drop in the number of women who feel comfortable speaking about mental health concerns in the workplace (25% in 2023 vs. 43% in the previous year), it’s clear that addressing the persistent stigma around mental health should be a top priority.
Protecting Women’s Health is a Need
Women have unique challenges when it comes to physical health, and most work even when experiencing them. 41% of women work through the pain and symptoms of menstruation. While 19% of the respondents have reported taking time off, they didn’t disclose the real reason. This can be due to the underlying stigma as well as the fear of their careers being negatively impacted. Out of the 765 responses, only 10% shared that they were able to give the real reason for their time off and received their employer’s support.
Menopause is also a uniquely challenging process that women go through. Typically, this transition happens between the ages of 45 and 55. The duration varies depending on various lifestyle factors and can affect women differently. Nevertheless, women who go through these health challenges need support from their employers as they manage this transition.
Out of the women who have disclosed experiencing menopause-related health challenges, 20% admit that they work through the symptoms. However, only 29% felt comfortable enough to take time off while disclosing the real reason and receiving support from their employers.
Women Continue to Experience Non-Inclusive Behaviors
The percentage of women who reported experiences of non-inclusive behaviors in the workplace dropped by 11% (44% in 2023 vs. 59% LY). Some examples of non-inclusive behavior include credit grabbing, giving fewer opportunities to speak up compared to male colleagues, exclusion to informal interactions, harassment, as well as interruptions in meetings. Women who are part of minority groups and identify as LGBTQ+ also tend to experience microaggressions and harassment at higher rates.
While these behaviors still exist, women don’t necessarily report such instances to their employers. 44% did not feel the incident was serious enough to report. There was also a slight increase in respondents who were concerned about:
- The lack of confidentiality (11% in 2023 vs. 6% LY)
- The potential negative impact on their careers (10% in 2023 vs. 6% LY)
These non-inclusive behaviors can drive women away from the workforce. One in ten women left their jobs in the last 12 months because of these behaviors. When women leave their employers, it doesn’t just negatively impact the teams they left. It contributes to the continuous issues affecting women in the workplace. When unaddressed, the gender pay gap gets bigger, and concerns surrounding gender equality will continue to prevail.
Factors Outside of Work Continue to Affect Women
Internal factors, including lack of support for women’s well-being and non-inclusive practices, are hurdles that women face in the workplace every day. But they’re not the only challenges. Factors outside of work also tend to take a toll on women and their careers.
At home, traditional gender roles still persist despite women also pursuing their own careers. Almost half (46%) of the respondents who live with a partner and have children say they take on most of the child-rearing responsibilities. And when it comes to cleaning and other domestic tasks, 42% of women say they handle most of the domestic workload.
Aside from household work, a third (37%) of the respondents share that they feel the need to prioritize their partners’ careers over their own. This type of thinking can be dangerous, as it can perpetuate a vicious cycle. When women let their careers take a backseat to prioritize their partner’s professional advancement, their chances of earning more will continue to lessen.
The Want (and Need) for Flexibility
Women have responded that flexible working arrangements are a top factor in their career decisions. Lack of flexibility, especially around working hours, is one of the top reasons why women left their employers in the past year. On the other side of the coin, there’s a correlation between the amount of flexibility and the length of a woman’s stay with their employer. Women who work in organizations that offer high levels of flexibility say they plan to stay with their current employers for more than five years.
When it comes to work arrangements, 74% of the respondents prefer hybrid working arrangements. Unfortunately, only half have the option for hybrid or fully remote work.
Those who are working remotely or in a hybrid setup, however, still experience non-inclusive behaviors at work. In 2023, 30% (vs. 45% LY) of women in a hybrid setup say they do not have enough exposure to senior leaders. And 37% (vs. 58% LY) report being excluded from meetings, decisions, and informal interactions. These numbers show that inclusive practices within a hybrid work setup are getting better, but employers still have a long way to go.
Most respondents (92%) stated that they do not believe their employer is taking concrete actions to deliver on its commitment to gender equality. It’s a clear sign that organizations need to do better and follow through. This includes working on more inclusive practices, offering flexibility, and providing the support women need to progress in their careers.
Companies that empower and support women report higher levels of well-being and job satisfaction. These Gender Equality Leaders also benefit from providing the support women need and deserve. Women who work for Gender Equality Leaders are reported to be more motivated and productive at work. They are also more likely to feel more connected to their employer and are more loyal.
Sadly, based on the report, only 5% of organizations are considered “Gender Equality Leaders.” But these companies can be great reference points for businesses who want to do better. They provide the blueprint of how to get things right for women. Best practices include:
- Building a respectful and inclusive culture.
- Embracing flexibility, understanding, and supporting women’s health.
- Enabling work-life balance.
- Providing career development and growth opportunities for women.
While these may seem like a lot of work and adjustments, starting now will benefit not just the employees but the whole organization. Not providing the right support, like flexible working policies and addressing women’s health issues, can cause your company to miss out on attracting the right talent. Who knows? You may be losing out on key people who can help you achieve future success.
If organizations want to attract and retain women, it’s time to really listen. It’s not enough to put commitment into writing. Walking the talk—fully committing to supporting women and taking concrete steps towards equality—should start now.
Read Deloitte’s 2023 Women @ Work report in full here.
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