“Women are working more, men are understanding their value as caregivers, women are primary breadwinners — I mean, we could go on and on and on. Things are different. So we can’t keep operating like everything is the same, and that’s what many of us have done. And I think it’s up to us to change the conversation.” – Michelle Obama
The gender gap has been a topic of sometimes heated discussion over the past several decades. Sadly, it appears that society isn’t coming to a conclusion on the matter anytime soon. But there’s a glimmer of hope for gender equality in the workplace. Some leading companies are stealthily closing the gender gap with a secret tool — remote work.
Why women walk away
Sixty percent of women who hold degrees at prestigious universities work full-time, and the other 40 percent have moved to more flexible jobs, slowed the pace of their careers, and declined promotions.
Female employees have plenty of reasons to want a better work-life balance. Case in point, many women are choosing to stay at home with their children, whether to form bonds or save money (it can cost, on average, $16,430 a year for child care in Massachusetts). But the high cost of daycare is not the reason for this departure.
A 2013 Pew Research study found that 51 percent of women felt that it was harder to advance their careers while also caring for a family — only 16 percent of men felt similarly. Meanwhile, a similar study concluded by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee determined that women leave the workplace “because companies weren’t flexible enough to accommodate work-life concerns.”
Not surprisingly, women will stick around when they feel valued. Simply give the women in your organization the tools and resources they need for success, and provide clear paths to advancement. Leverage and engage your women workers by offering mentorship and development programs.
One of the strongest ways to establish a female-empowered WX is to grant a flexible work schedule, or the opportunity to work remotely part of the time.
Leaders closing the gap
Women want to be treated like equals more than they want to be treated to a nice office. Companies that put their workers first understand the benefits of prioritizing work output, not hours worked.
Industry leaders like Google, Facebook, and Salesforce have been making public declarations to change the way they hire, pay, and promote women and minorities. Salesforce, for example, implemented a process in which at least one female or underrepresented minority candidate is interviewed for all executive positions. Now 19 percent of Salesforce executives are women — an increase of 27 percent from 2014.
Flexible work strengthens WX
To stay competitive, your company needs gender diversity. Remote work empowers and satisfies workers — raising productivity, while simultaneously reducing stress. Happy workers means happy customers, which means rising profits and company success. We call this relationship between worker and customer experiences the Virtuous Cycle. Learn about it in our Virtuous Cycle ebook.