AnnaMarie Houlis
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Journalist & travel blogger

The year 2018 has been dubbed the year of women. Women won the midterm elections in record numbers, making up the largest class of congresswomen in American history. And those victories followed a very vocal anti-sexual harassment campaign, Time's Up,  which was founded on the first day of the year and ultimately kicked off 12 months of long-anticipated pushback.  And thanks to all these efforts, a New York Times analysis found that at least 200 prominent men had lost their jobs after public allegations of sexual harassment, some of whom have faced criminal charges and nearly half of whom (43 percent) have been replaced by women.

As the new year kicks off, one major question that rolls over for companies large and small remains: how can businesses not only attract, but also retain this female talent? The Wharton Social Impact Initiative recently released new research that suggests that there's more to attracting and retaining women than meets the eye. 

While companies made great strides in 2018, "Four for Women: A Framework for Evaluating Companies’ Impact on the Women They Employ" indicates four major facets of the workplace that largely induce success and overall happiness for working women. After reviewing hundreds of academic studies, the ingredients boil down to representation, fair pay, good health and satisfaction.

Here's a cheat sheet for employers to take note of: 

1. Representation.

Among the S&P 500 companies, nearly 45 percent of employees are women, according to the research. That said, women represent just 37 percent of first and middle-level managers, 27 percent of executives and senior-level managers and only five percent of chief executive officers. It's not enough to just have women talent in the company and a few token female leaders. Women want to see representation across all levels of the company.

2. Fair pay.

"A good employer for women exhibits no gender wage gap," the report reads. "That is, there is no difference in the average compensation for women and men within the company."

The gender pay gap stands at approximately 20 percent today. And the gap isn't driven by differences in education or experience, but rather differences in occupation and industry. Summed up: It's occupational segregation. So, even if men and women earn the same for working the same job, a company's overall gender wage gap may still be significant if more women are working in lower-paying jobs within that company.

The report's takeaway is that companies need to not only pay women fairly, but they also need to give women equal opportunities.

3. A healthy environment.

Health is important to women in many ways. Some of the major way companies can promote healthy living is through benefits such as paid family leave and health insurance plans, and intolerance for sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace that hurts women's satisfaction.

"As a general rule of thumb, employment is good for your health," the report reads, noting that people who are employed tend to be healthier than those who are unemployed. But employers can help ensure good health by making sure that parents get the parental leave necessary, that women especially have access to health insurance plans and that women feel safe (and, therefore, less stressed) at work. 

4. Job satisfaction.

"A good employer provides satisfying working conditions for women (and men)," the report reads, noting that we spend more than 90,000 hours or about one-fifth of total waking hours working.

Job satisfaction is a rather ambiguous criterion, but the report explains a number of more specific characteristics that can induce job satisfaction, such as job variety, organizational climate, pay, autonomy, emotional intelligence and more. Meanwhile, job insecurity, workplace stress and tolerance for sexual harassment negatively affected women's job satisfaction.

The researchers suggest that companies take more steps to evaluate and measure themselves against these characteristics and that companies be more proactive in ensuring women's satisfaction in the workplace.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.