Research reveals how men executives are 2.6x more likely to feel treated fairly at work than women executives.
Women are not happy with the workplace.
At least, not to the extent that their men counterparts seem to think, and especially not to the extent that management seems to think.
For Great Place to Work’s 5th annual study of the Best Workplaces for Women™, we surveyed close to 700,000 employees from over 1,000 U.S. companies. And our research found some worrisome results.
Some men have their blinders on
Our study revealed that men are almost twice as likely as women in the workplace to think that people are treated fairly, regardless of gender. And that gender gap gets larger as you move up the managerial ladder.
In fact, at the leadership level, men executives are 2.6 times more likely to perceive fair treatment for all, compared to women executives — a phenomenon that we’ve dubbed “executive blinders.”
This gender discrepancy exists after adjusting for differences across LGBTQIA+ groups, race/ethnicities, caregiving responsibilities, tenure, work status, generations, living with disability, and pay type.
Where the workplace is letting women down
We measured employees on 60 difference aspects of their workplace culture, including credibility, respect, pride and camaraderie. Among these, fairness and equity revealed the biggest gaps between women’s and men’s workplace experiences.
Even at the Best Workplaces for Women, there are fewer women than men who believe they are paid fairly for the work they do. Women in the workplace, more often than men, experience management playing favorites and handing out promotions and work projects unfairly.
Given that in the U.S., women earn on average 15% less than men, these figures are distressing but hardly surprising.
Where gender intersects with diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Our research also found that while employees feel greater inclusion the higher they climb in management, there remains a gap of roughly 3 points between men and women at the Best Workplaces for Women, and roughly 5 points at other organizations.
But when you break that down by race or ethnicity, it paints a very different picture.
Latinx women feel the smallest gain in inclusion as they gain more management responsibilities. And Black women feel the least included at every level of management.
So, how can leaders build a better workplace for women?
- Learn the gaps. Get acquainted with research on women’s experience in the workplace. Conduct regular employee surveys and use the data to initiate change.
- Set clear expectations. Be transparent with employees about promotion criteria. Whenever someone is promoted, leaders should be able to point exactly to the factors behind it.
- Encourage growth. Don’t just give projects to employees who can “get the job done.” Prioritize learning and development, and consider team members who can grow from such opportunities.
- Ask questions. Find out directly from your team members what types of opportunities they’d like to be a part of, rather than assuming.
- Track opportunities. Actively track which team members you’ve given opportunities to, so that you can ensure equal access to everyone.
- Be an ally. Participate in an employee resource group or broach topics of the gender experience (as well as other DEIB issues) with other leaders.
- Ensure representation. All employees should have representation at the senior leadership level. Everyone wants to hear from people who are “like them.” You can’t be what you can’t see.
Overall, our research shows that men are having a better experience at work than women. And while the gender gap at the Best Workplaces for Women is significantly smaller than at other organizations, it still exists. This means there’s still plenty of work to be done.