Gender experience gaps at work: where they are, and how to close them
We have all heard it before — experiences at work are different for men than they are for women. While some may see it, and some feel it, as we design work experiences, it’s important to use the data to inform the decisions we make. Qualtrics recently conducted research to determine where work experience gaps exist, and what drives positive work experiences to help close these gaps.
For this study, we analyzed data on how the employee experience differs for workers across regions, by gender, and role seniority. This research reveals critical insights as leadership teams work to build diverse and equitable workforces.
What the data shows about gender experience gaps
1) Men consistently have more positive employee experiences than women do. This is even despite increasing attention and efforts aimed at leveling the playing field at work.
In the 2023 Employee Experience Trends Report, respondents who identify as men consistently say they have more positive experiences at work than women do. (For the data breakdown.) In fact, the gap between women’s intent to stay and men’s is growing, as is how well their overall experience meets their expectations.
|Engaged at work||67%||66%||68%|
|Experience Exceeds expectations||39%||36%||41%|
|Intend to stay 3+ years||64%||61%||67%|
|Have positive well-being||71%||70%||72%|
2) In the United States, labor force participation rates for women have recovered at a faster pace than men’s, but similar improvements have not been seen in their overall experience in the workplace.
While we may see more women coming back to work, the reasons for the recovery have required some nuance. Women were more likely to leave the workforce during COVID-19, a result of being more likely to work in impacted industries and roles, as well as taking on more caretaking responsibilities at home. Even as women re-enter the workforce at a faster pace, the experience gap between men and women remains.
3) Global regional differences are revealed at higher job levels
Across the globe, senior leaders – those at the director level and higher – report having the most positive employee experiences of all job levels. But leaders in the Asia-Pacific region have a notably different experience by gender than leaders in North America and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region do.
In fact, in some Asia-Pacific countries, women leaders rate their experiences more positively than their male counterparts at the senior leadership level. In North America and EMEA, the opposite is true; male senior leaders rate their employee experiences significantly more favorably than the overall workforce. Women leaders also have higher results, but to a lesser degree than men.
4) We need to think beyond the gender binary
While it is easy to limit discussions about gender equity to the experiences of men and women, gender is not binary and should always include the experiences of transgender, intersex and non-binary people. The challenge in using quantitative data to understand these experiences is the smaller sample sizes in our datasets ensure that statistically reliable results are hard to report. But the insights from our global study of over 30,000 people show these employees have consistently poorer experiences at work, so it is critical that employers to apply a focus on these groups
What the data says drives good experiences
Recognizing the most impactful drivers of employee experiences can help leaders focus their efforts to create equitable workplaces.
What the data actually shows may surprise you.
Drivers of positive employee experiences are consistent across genders.
The factors that drive a positive employee experience for women at work are:
- Believing their career goals can be met at the company
- Having good opportunities to learn and develop
- Feeling supported in efforts to adapt to organizational changes
- When the company helps them understand how changes will affect their work
- Work processes that allow them to be as productive as possible
These factors are relatively consistent across genders, signaling that people are more similar than different when it comes to what drives them at work.
If this is the case, what is the problem? Why are we not seeing similar outcomes for everyone equally?
The research says men consistently say they have more positive experiences with these drivers, suggesting that their employee needs are being better met.
“While many senior leaders are making real efforts to build more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizations, to be successful they must be intentional in understanding the experiences of different employee segments, especially those who are marginalized or underrepresented,” said Dr. Cecelia Herbert, Principal Catalyst at Qualtrics XM Institute.
“This should be given the same focus as other strategic priorities because diverse teams that engage with a fair and inclusive culture are the key to a company’s competitive advantage. When leaders listen to these employees, and take action based on their insights, they can begin to craft a future where both employees and organizations can thrive.”
As organizations continue to build the new employee experience, they must be working to ensure different segments of their employees are similarly benefiting from it.
For more on the future of work, and how leaders are working to address it tune into “Solving the Top Three Experience Challenges of 2023”.
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