4 ways to create workplaces women won’t want to leave

Most women in today’s workforce are employable.

Fifty-four percent of working women say they are open to a new job in the next six months, according to a July 2022 Great Place To Work® market research survey of nearly 4,200 workers. One in 10 women said they would like to quit their job, but don’t think they can.

According to the survey, the typical American workplace fails to meet women’s basic needs in terms of fair wages and promotions, and healthy emotional cultures.

This is a big difference from what women experience in city businesses the fortune 2022 Best Workplaces for Women™ list, where gender gaps in nearly every measure of employee experience are nearly non-existent. And where a staggering 90% of women say they plan to stay in their jobs for a long time.

“We’re seeing gender gaps narrow at large companies because they’re creating great cultures for all employees,” says Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture.

“The good news is that any company can create cultures that support women and help them thrive, regardless of whether they’re in the executive suite or on the front lines, whether they’re Boomers or Gen Z, African-American or Asian-American, or any specific type. demographic groups and related intersections,” he says. “But it takes constant, dedicated work.”

Great Place To Work determined this year’s list by analyzing data from more than 1.2 million anonymous employee responses, of which more than 640,000 were from women at qualifying companies.

The workers at these 125 workplace winners aren’t “quietly quitting,” if you’re in the camp that defines that trending phrase as “disengaged workers who don’t go above and beyond at work.” Rather, 92% percent of women in top workplaces say people are willing to give more at work compared to just 50% of women in a typical workplace.

Creating equitable cultures will help you remain competitive and better positioned to leverage the hiring pool. But you will have to compete with the best companies.

Here’s where to start:

1. Comply with the Fair Pay and Promotions Baseline.

A fair wage, arguably the most basic need of any worker, is one of the biggest gender disparities in a typical workplace: 45% of women report fair wages compared to 56% of men. At Best Workplaces, 81% of women say they receive a fair wage, with no significant difference compared to their male colleagues.

Similarly, less than half (45%) of women in Average Workplaces report fair promotions, 8 percentage points less than men, compared to 83% of women in Best Workplaces (and it’s not different from men).

“These workplaces work hard to support both women and men because they understand that equal pay and opportunities for growth attract great employees and increase their loyalty and pride,” Bush says.

Women are 40% more likely to stay in their jobs when they are paid fairly.

Twice a year, Slalom Consulting (No. 7 on the Big Companies list) reviews whether employees with similar roles, experience and performance are earning the same salary using independent third-party experts. The consultancy began sharing pay equity updates with all employees in 2020.

PulteGroup (#32 on the Great Companies List) created a “Dynamic Women in Leadership” video series featuring Pulte leaders sharing their career risks, journeys and challenges to help employees understand that they can achieve anything whatever they want

2. Provide a psychologically healthy workplace.

In addition to fair pay and promotions, an emotionally healthy culture was the third area women struggled with in typical workplaces: 49% of women characterized their workplace as psychologically healthy compared to 54% of men.

In Best Workplaces, almost nine out of 10 women report working in a psychologically and emotionally healthy workplace, showing no significant difference compared to their male colleagues.

Healthy workplaces give employers a competitive advantage. Women are 50% more likely to stay in their jobs and twice as likely to help recruit if they feel their workplace is emotionally healthy.

Intuit (No. 12 on the list of large companies) offers robust mental health resources including mindfulness webinars, wellness programs, fitness offers and $1,300 reimbursement for expenses for US employees who align with physical, emotional or financial well-being. And the entire company closes to recharge during the last week of December.

3. Provide meaningful work.

Great Place To Work research reveals what drives women to stay at their companies. There are many factors, but purpose tops the list.

That said, employers may be tempted to advance meaningful work and think it will benefit women. But the purpose must be built on the basic foundation of fair pay and promotions.

Women are three times more likely to stay in their jobs if they believe their work has special meaning and is “not just a job.” Women are not unique in this respect. Purpose is the #1 retention driver at large companies by industry, generation and geography.

Senior leaders at Credit Acceptance (No. 36 on the Big Companies list) included employee thoughts and ideas when crafting a refined vision and purpose statement. These conversations created greater connection and inspiration, and provided an opportunity for employees to put their stamp on statements that will last throughout the company.

Hilton, No. 1 on the list of large companies for the second year in a row, sponsors educational programs and networking events such as “She has a Deal,” a platform created by Hilton franchise owner Tracy Prigmore that focuses on creating ownership opportunities for women through education, networking and mentoring.

4. Support women wherever they work: remotely, on-site or hybrid.

Some leaders want workers back in the office, while others plan to stay remote or take a hybrid approach.

For women, one is no better than the other in a typical U.S. workplace, according to the Great Place To Work market survey.

Women who work remotely have the best experience compared to hybrid or on-site workers in terms of fair pay and giving more to their work, but struggle to feel like they make a difference (53%) in compared to on-site workers, who had the best experience with this at 63%.

Fair promotions are a challenge for women who work remotely. Forty percent say their company offers fair promotions compared to 43% of on-site workers and 49% of hybrid workers.

And when it comes to purpose, more women who work onsite or with a hybrid schedule feel that their work has special meaning compared to remote workers. But employees who work onsite are less likely to feel that their workplace is psychologically healthy.

Interestingly, there is no significant difference for women in terms of how supported they feel with work-life balance between hybrid, face-to-face, and remote work. The workplace is not a panacea for reconciling work and family life. Location itself is not a solution.

Each approach has its own challenges and benefits, and you can create a great workplace for women regardless of where they work.

“There is no one size fits all in today’s workplace, and there never has been,” says Bush. “Companies need to understand where women need support and find them there.”

Roula Amire is the content director of Great Place To Work.

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