Each quarter, Shine Managing Director, Stephanie Parry, provides insights and impact from our work with women around the globe. Read on to uncover the trends that matter around women and gender equality, and what your organisation can do to retain female talent.
Boundaries is such an interesting word. In cricket, when you pass the boundaries, you get maximum points. Yet in life, when people push past our boundaries it’s the opposite effect. I’ve been in my new role as Shine for Women Managing Director for 100 days; and in those 100 days this is the word I’ve heard used from the women we work with, most consistently.
“Globally, across all industries, managing boundaries is a significant challenge to women right now.”
At Shine, we are lucky enough to partner with clients across all industries and many different countries. These are large organisations; from one of the world’s biggest independent financial groups to international creative agency networks. In every sector, amongst all groups of women, our facilitators and coaches are hearing the same thing: from struggling to juggle home life and work-life realities, to navigating ‘crazy meeting cultures’, to trying to fit our newly flexible lives with the realities of the return to the office that is happening in some countries – managing boundaries is a significant challenge to women right now. Where work/life blend used to be what everyone craved, it’s become a poisoned chalice for many, and a classic place for catastrophising: “If I say no to working until 2 am, I will lose my job.” In lots of cases, women are being enabled to work flexibly; via adaptive HR policies or individual discussions with managers to truly understand their needs. But, what needs to happen more is women being empowered to set boundaries and more exposure to positive role models that do this well. It’s how we do it, not just if we do it…
“Junior women want to consciously design their work week to support their mental health, but need support in asking for this.“
The pandemic has been a conscious awakening for a lot of people about the importance of our mental health, and the link between the brain and body (a ‘neurochemical cocktail party’ as our lovely in-house Neurocoach and fitness fanatic Lara Milward calls it!) We are seeing more women, especially at a more junior level (at Shine we call these women ‘Rising Stars’), consciously making space to honour this and designing a workweek around it. However, there is still a hesitance in some cases to ask for what they truly need, so our advice here at Shine would be twofold:
“Digital transformation, accelerated by the pandemic, is facilitating cultural shift.”
Another trend we’re seeing, particularly in the US and the UK, is the push for cultural shift. Linked to boundaries, we are seeing the push to celebrate and recognise all; not just the loudest or most senior voices, and not just those who work full-time. Digital transformation, which accelerated during the pandemic, has enabled real transparency; instead of hunter-gatherers, we have adapted to data-gatherers. Digital communities are providing women with a safe space to discuss their needs and requests more openly – we see this consistently within our own online community, Shine On. Forward-thinking companies are committed to recognising the need for this cultural shift and the threat of ‘The Great Resignation’ and are adapting quickly. US and European companies, with recent law changes such as around transparency of salary bands in NYC and ‘The Right to Disconnect’ in France, will be wise to proactively plan to address retention.
“There is an urgent need to invest in personal development in mid-level women.“
There is also absolutely a consciousness needed of the different realities of the different levels within your organisation. A global HBR survey during the pandemic of over 3,000 remote workers found that ‘middle managers are 46% less satisfied with their jobs than senior executives.’ Specifically for women, a Myers-Briggs survey found ‘stress levels for women were more extreme than those for men, and stress levels peaked for those at the mid-senior management level but dropped significantly among those at the executive level.’ In every single client discussion, I have had since I have been here (twenty one and counting), each have enquired about what we do to support mid-level Rising Stars, as this is the group they are recognising has the most urgent need for increased investment in personal development to support retention.
So why does this matter? Because all of this indicates that a movement is happening: a movement toward action. Remember – culture is what you do, not what you say you do. Women of all levels are pushing for tangible change and are no longer prepared to fit within historically male-designed structures. They want to collaborate and work with internal allies to create cultures that serve and make space for their personal nourishment and development, as well as their professional goals. And the corporate benefit? Research shows that gender-diverse companies consistently outperform from a profitability perspective, and have superior value creation. Check out some of the stats, here.
Invest in your women, and not only does it payback but they will, without fail, pay it forward.
We’re good like that.
Share this article with your colleagues and the people around you and encourage a healthy discussion. And for anything else, follow us on social media or get in touch via email but remember when women thrive, men thrive, business thrives.