The State of Women in the Workplace in 2023
Women have made significant progress in the workplace in recent decades, but they have lost some ground in recent years. In 2020, the pandemic hit women particularly hard, with many leaving the workforce to take on caregiving roles. In 2021, women were more likely than men to quit their jobs during the Great Resignation. And as of 2022, women’s labor force participation still lags behind pre-pandemic levels.
This is a problem for both women and businesses. Women make up a valuable and growing talent pool, and businesses need them to fill entry-level positions and individual contributor roles. But then the momentum stops. Women are given fewer opportunities for promotion than men, and they are more likely to leave their jobs.
This is not sustainable. Businesses need to take action to promote and retain women in the workplace. Here are five suggestions:
- Talk to women in your organization. Find out what’s working and what’s not in terms of career growth, flexibility, and culture. When women are leaving the organization, find out why. This research process should provide plenty of insight into how you can improve parental leave, work conditions for caretakers, upskilling, mentoring, and more.
- Focus on recognition and succession. To stamp out inequities, you must first identify them. Ask critical questions like: How are promotion and succession plans built? Is it equitable and unbiased? Who is winning awards and bonuses and why? Do the people put on those lists reflect the workforce? Are women a smaller portion? Are women of color even more so?
- Gather and analyze data around gender representation. If inequity is in the data, there’s the starting point for rooting out the limitations that hold women back and rebuilding programs to fairly include everyone.
- Use surveys to better understand the culture of the company. Is what the business says about its culture in alignment with the employee experience? Does that experience change based on an employee’s gender? Do meeting culture, committee work, and team socializing welcome and include everyone? Be sure to include open-ended response areas to capture unforeseen issues and invite ideas for improving company culture and engagement.
- Foster mentorship and apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are powerful programs for developing talent and skills, yet women are severely underrepresented. Build an apprenticeship program focused on bolstering the ranks of women in the areas where the business struggles to hire and retain women (engineering, tech, etc.). By providing an apprenticeship program, you can not only develop women for their next roles (in your organization or elsewhere) but also use the program as a way to set your company apart from the competition for talent. Apprenticeships are a fast-tracked and personalized method of training and development, so track the data around your program and tout its benefits in your employer branding and recruitment practices.
It’s time to take action. The longer we wait to improve working conditions for women, the more great talent will leave organizations and lose out on economic opportunity. We need to focus on setting up a workplace culture that:
- Brings back many women workers who left.
- Builds a strong pipeline of young women.
- Retains women for the long term.
- Promotes women to leadership positions.
If U.S. business leadership continues to be complacent about the gender disparities in the workplace, we’ll continue to stagnate and potentially return to the workplaces of the past.
The future of work is female. Let’s make sure we’re doing everything we can to support women in the workplace.