BOSTON—March 21, 2022—Throughout the pandemic, women have been quitting their jobs at significantly higher rates than men, largely exacerbated by the levels of burnout in women across the workforce. As part of Bain & Company’s recent study, The Fabric of Belonging: How to Weave an Inclusive Culture, the firm surveyed more than 4,500 women—in seven different countries and across all levels of their organizations—to learn about how they think and feel about inclusion in the workplace. The firm found that, on average, only 25% of women feely fully included in the workplace.
A focus on inclusion is necessary to creating a meaningful difference in attracting and retaining women workers across industries. According to Bain’s new research, women who feel fully included are 11 times more likely than those who do not to be promoters of their companies, a key indicator of employee engagement and company results. On the flip side, women who feel excluded at work are three times more likely to quit than those who feel included in the workplace. Additionally, the firm found that inclusion is an integral part of successfully recruiting women, with more than 60% of the women in Bain’s sample citing an inclusive environment as important in a new job—as well as for retaining them.
“Inclusion is one of the most important factors in hiring, engaging and retaining women in the workplace,” said Bianca Bax, partner in Bain & Company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion practice. “To weather the impacts of the Great Resignation, it is critical for employers to get a deep understanding of their organization’s talent—in this case women—by listening to their stories and incorporating the nuances to increase their feelings of inclusion and, in turn, enabling them to thrive.”
Some of the specific behavioral enablers that increase inclusion for women—at least more than for men—include empathy, and open and honest communications. To further understand the most successful change efforts needed to improve inclusion and foster gender equity in the workplace, Bain has outlined a clear path for organizations to overcome complexity:
- Start with C-level commitments to making these improvements. This includes spearheading the case for change, ensuring that the leadership team, and eventually the whole organization, understand the value to be unlocked by advancing gender equity.
- Understand intersectionality and apply intersectional lenses to data about your organization. Companies must look past women as a whole, and instead, look at specific groups of women through additional intersectional lens, taking into consideration other factors such as race or ethnicity, geography, and tenure or place in the organization. This will reveal what actions will most effectively increase inclusion for the various groups within the greater group of women employees.
- Focus on behaviors that increase inclusion for women employees generally. Companies should embrace the value of growth opportunities and feedback for all, train leadership and others to recognize biases, sponsor women throughout the organization and show them clear career paths.
“Some industries, such as financial services, are severely lagging behind on their path towards inclusion for women, with 43% of women in financial services having experienced inappropriate language, insults or bullying in the workplace,” said Nishma Gosrani, partner in Bain & Company’s Financial Services practice. “These industries, in particular, should use the progress made to date as further momentum for the path ahead, increasing inclusion for their women employees that will help create broader gender equity in society overall.”
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