Cathleen Clerkin’s research on “What Women Want And Why You Want Women In the Workplace” showed that women play crucial role in maintaining company’s bottom line. Bringing in more women to the team will increase company’s financial performance as well. The study also found that having more female employees in the workplace gives positive impact related to employee engagement and retention. “Organizations with a high percentage of women were more likely to cite positive and meaningful organizational culture including enjoyable work, a job that fits with other areas, and opportunities to make a difference,” said the report.
However, Mara Swan, executive vice president of global strategy and talent at ManpowerGroup, argued that women continue experiencing underrepresentation in industries as technology continues to disrupt and we see the emergence of skills revolution. Job sectors in engineering, technology, architecture, and mathematics will likely to grow bigger than any other field. In this case, Swan said, “biggest impact will be felt by women” because most sectors will deal with digitisation, automation, and robotics where women are traditionally not interested or skilled at these areas.
Nonetheless, Right Management team on their research titled “Women, We Hear You: Empowering Women in the Workplace Through Ongoing Career Conversations” has discussed women’s role and how women can contribute even in today’s digital era. Career conversations provide perfect opportunity to reaffirm strengths and align women’s goals and motivations with the organisation’s needs. Additionally, regular career conversation can improve employee engagement. Majority (82 percent) respondents said they will be more engaged through career conversation, while 75 percent said they will stay with current employers and 78 percent others said they can share ideas more freely. Thus, career conversation could be the answer to improve women’s career advancement in digitisation era.
How women will win in a skills revolution
As technology will continue to disrupt and surely impact on employability, the life cycle of skills will depend on employees’ ability to demonstrate their learnability – that is the desire and ability to learn new skills to stay relevant for the long-term. However, as mentioned in the Right Management’s research, one in five women has never had an assessment of their skills and one in four has never had a conversation about how they can develop. While we cannot slow down technological development, career conversations and investment in skills development will increase the relevance and resilience of women.
Mind the sponsor gap
Women are more likely to be strong networkers and talented relationship builders than male counterparts. Yet, their networks can be quantity over quality when it comes to careers – but, it is not who you know, it is who you need to know. Right Management research reveals that 84 percent women have not been able to identify a sponsor within organisation. Sponsors are someone who can push their career advancement to go on top. They create culture of conscious inclusion, support and consciously advocate for women in boardroom.
Therefore, to help women find sponsor in order to advance their career progression, companies should equip senior leaders to become sponsor, facilitate movement of high potential employees and make sponsorship a critical part of employee’s talent and organisational strategy.
Some things will not change
Millennial women do care more about their private life and relationship with children, older relatives, and partners. Thus, we cannot expect gender parity to come with a new generation – we cannot change biology. However, providing career conversation about shifting priorities beyond office and how to achieve work-life blend can be a good solution. As quoted in the Right Management’s research, “It is clear: unless we begin having career conversations, addressing how work gets done and how performance is measured, women’s progress will stall.”
Practical steps toward effective career conversations
“When it comes to career conversation, what works for women will surely works for entire workforce”, said Right Management team. It was mentioned that 40 percent of women would like to have more conversations about their opportunities for growth. Therefore, if your organisation is serious about getting women into leadership, you should go beyond programmes and change the culture. Moreover, with the right questions, any manager can talk the talk. Here are a series of question you can consider to help you get career conversation started:
Who Am I? How do I fit? – to help employee clarify their career goals, values, motivations, and abilities.
What is expected of me? – to develop goals that are smart (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound).
How will my talents and contributions be recognised? – meaningful conversation about intrinsic motivations that engage employee.
How am I doing? – to observe strength and opportunities and provide feedback.
What’s next for me? – to identify steps to reach next career goal.
What and how should I develop? – laying out development timeline for skills needed.