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IWD 2023: 5 ways to create more balanced experiences in the workplace
Wed, 8th Mar 2023
FYI, this story is more than a year old

When it comes to creating more gender-balanced experiences in the workplace, there is still work to do. While the latest Employee Experience (EX) Trends research from Qualtrics shows there are no significant gaps in the core employee experience metrics between men and women - such as engagement, intent to stay, inclusion, wellbeing, and meeting employee expectations - this does not tell the complete story.

The differences arise when we look at experiences among intersectional cohorts of men and women in the workforce and within certain engagements and interactions.

For example:

  • While women have comparable levels of engagement with men (69% and 68%, respectively), women are less likely to say their experiences are being met at work (56% compared to 60%) and have a lower intent to stay (53% compared to 60%)
  • Intent to stay among women in the workforce is lowest among women with a disability, women below management level, and women younger than 35
  • 40% of women believe their pay is linked to performance, compared to 49% of men
  • 55% of women say the benefits at work meet their needs, compared to 62% of men
  • Ensuring women feel supported through change, have access to learning & development opportunities, are empowered to make decisions, and are provided with early onboarding experiences are the core EX offerings setting women up for success at work.

Findings from the Qualtrics study highlight the diverse gender experience gaps that exist - and are sometimes hidden - in workplaces across Australia and New Zealand, highlighting the critical need for employers to build more momentum with targeted action focused on identifying and closing them.

Five ways to create more balanced experiences at work

Drawing on intersectional gender insights from Qualtrics’ 2023 Employee Experience Trends report, there are five key areas employers must prioritise to ensure workplaces are equitable for all:

1. Review pay-for-performance practices and design benefits for a hybrid world

Fewer than half of employees (44%) in Australia and New Zealand agree their pay is linked to performance, with men (49%) significantly more positive than women (40%). Simultaneously, there has been a significant drop year-on-year in the volume of women who say employee benefits meet their needs.

With just half of Australian organisations conducting pay equity analysis, there is a clear need for more transparent and fair data-driven pay and performance practices to ensure pay is fairly distributed.

2. Seek to understand the drivers of gendered outcomes in the workforce

As demonstrated by our findings, employers wanting to provide a consistent employee experience for their entire workforce need to understand the different drivers that exist among their employee base and take systemic action on them.

For example, the Qualtrics research indicates that feeling supported through change, having access to learning & development opportunities, being empowered to make decisions, and early onboarding experiences are what set women up for success at work.

3. Understand and improve the intersectional human experience

Linked to understanding the EX-drivers for women at work, there are experience gaps among different groups of women in the workforce too whether that’s by age, ability, ethnicity, culture, job type, or level. Identifying and acting on the unique needs of different cohorts is critical.

According to AHRI, only a quarter of Australian organisations currently measure the DEI profile of their organisation to assess the intersectionality between different groups or identities.

To demonstrate this reality in Australia and New Zealand, the Qualtrics data shows that employees who identify as women with a disability have significantly lower wellbeing indicators than men with a disability. Looking at experiences of employees with a disability as a single cohort without the gender lens would result in missing these important insights.

4. Build diverse leadership teams and an equitable opportunity for career development

As part of efforts to close the gender experience gap, it’s critical employers remain conscious about building diverse leadership teams reflecting the customers and employees they represent. In fact, this isn’t just good moral sense, it makes good business sense, too.

McKinsey’s most recent Diversity wins report shows the most diverse companies outperform their peers by 36% in profitability.

While one of the most pervasive drivers of EX for men and women is feeling as though their ‘career goals can be met’, the Qualtrics study shows men are more positive about the opportunities afforded to help them achieve this. As such, it’s important to continually find proven ways that enable women to achieve their goals. 

5. Go beyond the gender binary

While it is easy to limit discussions about gender equity to the experiences of men and women, gender is not binary and should always include the experiences of transgender, intersex and non-binary people. The insights from our global study (based on nearly 30,000 responses) show these employees have consistently poorer experiences at work, demonstrating the critical opportunity for employers to apply a focus on these groups.

Improving the gender experience gap is bigger than pay

When we talk about making the workplace a fair and equitable experience for all, our data reinforces the point that this is a larger discussion than simply pay.

The pay gap is part of a much larger experience gap, and employers must be focused on resolving this in order to make sustainable and impactful progress.

The workplace experiences people need to feel included, engaged, and want to stay with their organisations are largely the same for men and women. The difference exists in how positive the experiences are, with employees who identify as men being more likely to have these expectations met.

If employers are serious about making positive change, employers need to understand why some groups of employees are experiencing things differently from others to help take immediate, tailored action to remove the friction points that exist. In many instances, this will improve the programs that already exist.

Ensuring the workplace is an equitable place for all requires ongoing focus and commitment from employers. When we are successful, the benefits will be felt across every aspect of society.