The Case for Making Women Happy


I have a friend with this mantra: “When Mama’s happy, everybody’s happy.”

Translation: When his spouse is happy, things get done. Life’s challenges are tackled with better results, relationships grow stronger, and everyone in the family has a safe and supportive place to grow, achieve and be the best they can be.

It’s not a stretch to say, “When women are happy, everybody’s happy in your workplace, too.” Women, and today’s Millennials in particular, want the same things at work. Both want to make a difference and feel valued. Both groups want greater work-life balance. Both groups are more productive in an inclusive, collaborative workplace.

Yes, women want equal pay for equal work; that’s a given. But attracting and keeping talented women and Millennials takes more than money. A 2013 LinkedIn poll of 5,300 professional women found that women prioritize “flexible working arrangements” over “good remuneration/pay” as the most important factor when evaluating a job. Although still concerned by the dearth of investment in their personal development and the lack of a clear career path, they define “success” as achieving professional and personal balance.

Research shows that Millennials — male and female — have the same priorities and aspirations as working women. When a company doesn’t match their values, or accommodate their need for flexibility and desire for meaning, Millennials will look to other options, like starting their own companies, according to a Bentley University study of 1,000 college-educated men and women born since 1980.

A Workplace With No Limits

Consider your company’s policies and workplace culture. Are they family-friendly? Are they female-friendly? If your organization is undervaluing and underusing high-potential female employees, it’s driving away Millennial talent. That’s because, as Bentley University found, Millennials, like women, are family-oriented, want a life beyond work and seek a workplace where they can be authentic.

The most successful retail and consumer goods companies are making progress in creating cultures that appeal to women and Millennials — or, to quote the Network of Executive Women’s vision statement, “a workplace with no limits.”

But there’s much more work to do. Like their older female peers, Millennial women see themselves as having the experience, skills and desire to advance to leadership positions. Six in 10 of those polled by Bentley University consider themselves “ambitious” (virtually the same share as men).

However, more male than female Millennials say their hard work is recognized by promotions, opportunities and compensation, and more women than men say their work is praised, but not rewarded.

The study offers practical advice for creating a culture that attracts and retains Millennials. These are the same changes NEW champions:

  • ➤ Let employees know that their work matters.
  • ➤ Provide flexible work arrangements so that men and women can spend more time with their families.
  • ➤ Offer parental leave to both parents in a positive and supportive manner.
  • ➤ Take an interest in the individual’s career aspirations by hiring, supporting and sponsoring for career success.
  • ➤ Create a “work family” that engenders loyalty to the company.
  • ➤ Create multiple paths and flexible time frames for individuals to attain leadership positions.

When our industry creates a workplace culture that attracts and advances high-potential women, it creates a culture that attracts and keeps the best talent — of both genders and of all ages.

Millennials — male and female — have the same priorities and aspirations as working women.

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