What Are Women Executives Looking for in Their Workplace?

Sponsored by ABB

Women leaders.

Photo courtesy of ABB.

June 20, 2024 at 12:30AM UTC

This article contains insights from ABB’s global executive search team based on market research. It was originally published here, and authored by Jamie Rich, Gary Earle and Domenico Zuccarello.

Most companies today have recognized the importance of having women in leadership positions. This not only creates gender diversity, but it also contributes to the diversity of ideas, better problem solving, and increased collaboration. Ultimately, having women as part of the company’s management team represents a true source of competitive advantage and success for each organization.

To attract top female executives, it is important to understand what women are seeking when embarking upon a new job search. Men and women look for career opportunities differently and the COVID-19 pandemic, among other factors, has highlighted the distinctions between what men and women are expecting from prospective employers.

Due to the pandemic, women lost jobs at a rate of nearly 2x greater than men. COVID-19 ushered in what we now know of as “The Great Resignation” where many employees voluntarily left their jobs to find a more rewarding work milieu elsewhere. Some sought new positions which kindled their passions and renewed their vigor or provided more flexibility versus the traditionally structured environments of their previous employers. This phenomenon has led female executives to be much more selective in their current job searches.

Here are several items female executives are identifying as being important when choosing a new employer:

1. Flexible Work Schedule/Working Remotely.

A flexible schedule and the ability to work remotely are no longer “nice to haves,” they are “must haves.” Studies have indicated that for women, flex or remote work is even more important than the financial benefits a company can offer. According to Egon Zehnder, women benefited greatly from working from home during the pandemic. Working from home created better work-life balance by providing more flexibility in their work schedules and a less stressful work environment while increasing productivity. ABB has embraced flexible work options depending on job compatibility without compromising customer service or impacting colleagues: Common Flexible Work Practices (FWP) include Flex-time, Compressed Work Week, Remote Work, Telecommuting, Part Time, and Job Share. Global Flexible Work Practices Guidelines detail standards and processes which will apply across ABB. However, many countries will go beyond these standards where local legislation allows.

2. A Position with Purpose.

Research has also confirmed that women are looking for roles that fit well with other areas of their lives. They want enjoyment from the work that they do, believing that their job gives them the opportunity to make a difference in their organization. This concept also positively impacts communities and societies around them and has been referred to in some circles as “a calling.” Experiencing work as “a calling” is directly related to increased job satisfaction.

Today, ABB offers a unique platform to leverage individual competencies and future aspirations while energizing the transformation of society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future. Moreover, ABB is helping each employee build a fulfilling career by making all opportunities open to everyone through its “Open Job Market” policy where every year more than 10,000 open positions are being published internally and externally.

3. Equal Pay.

Even women who climb to the highest rungs on the corporate ladder are sometimes, in some companies, still paid less than their male counterparts. In addition to salary, this discrepancy can also extend to incentive pay, such as stock grants and bonuses. The gender pay gap has been incrementally improving, but it is still taking time to achieve parity with their male counterparts. There is substantial evidence to show that companies that can close these gaps perform better and are subject to less business risk. As one of the world’s foremost companies, ABB is a leader in ensuring equal pay for equal work for all its employees. 

As such, ABB has adopted a Global Grading System with support from Hay Consultants, which allows ABB to measure the relative worth of all openings in the organization. This means that jobs are reviewed in a fair and consistent way with similar jobs being compared to each other across countries, and in many cases across Divisions.The Global Grading System and the resulting grade evaluation is a foundation for remuneration decisions involving base pay, short term incentives, long term incentives and other benefits.

4. Tailored Benefits.

According to a MetLife survey, the majority of women in the workplace say it’s important that their employer provides tailored benefits as part of their employment package. Tailoring benefits to address the specific needs of employee populations is becoming increasingly important. With this in mind, ABB provides two employee-focused programs that offer more options for a catered benefit experience. ABB believes there is a direct link between the physical and mental health of its people and the company’s overall performance.

The Global Parental Leave Program is gender-neutral and grants 12 weeks of paid leave for primary caregivers and 4 weeks for secondary caregivers across the global organization. Every ABB employee world-wide under the program who is having a child, whose partner is having a child, or who adopts a child or becomes a parent through surrogacy, is entitled to paid parental leave.

The Employee Assistance Program, which is offered to employees across the world, provides confidential information, support, and referral services to help you maximize productivity and achieve work/life balance. This includes help with topics such as substance abuse, stress, family issues, personal finance, career resources, and much more.

5. A Diverse and Inclusive Organization.

Companies that embrace a diverse workforce stand out in more ways than one. It has repeatedly been confirmed that gender diversity results in increased productivity, greater innovation, and better decision making. Having more women in executive roles is not only reasonable and good for business, but also improves recruitment, retention, and the morale of the workforce in general.

Today’s corporate executives have a key opportunity to reimagine what work means and what it can look like, especially for gender diverse employees and candidates. Once conceived, they must move quickly to implement these new workforce and workplace concepts. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that successful organizations are the ones that can adapt swiftly. In doing so, the practices they employ now will have a lasting impact on current and future leaders.

ABB strives for a culture where individual differences are not only welcomed but celebrated. As such, ABB has a three-pillar model based on governance (processes, policies, tools, best practice empowerment and D&I) as well as inclusive leadership & culture, and partnerships.

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