Recognition is key to driving female inclusion and belonging, cites new workforce study

Respondents who reported being recognised at work were almost twice as likely to have a strong sense of belonging

Women experience lower levels of belonging in the workplace than men, according to a new study entitled the “2021 Culture Report.”

The study involved 3,500 employed respondents globally and found “a strong sense of belonging correlated with higher engagement, job commitment, productivity, and more.” However, workplace belonging was found to be higher for men (31%) than for women (22%).

“From work-life balance to pay equity, when it comes to feeling known and being included, women consistently reported lower results than male respondents for these belonging factors,” revealed the study.

Women were also “25% less likely to say they felt comfortable sharing a dissenting opinion and were 20% less likely to say their unique background and identity were valued at their company.”

While Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) help foster employee belonging among underrepresented groups in organisations, the study found that “women were 24% less likely than men to say their company had ERGs that help them feel connected.” This suggests that ERGs may need additional support and adequate attention from the central business, including its leadership.

However, the study pointed to some positives, including the fact that diverse and inclusive organisations were more likely to make workers feel valued and belong. Namely, respondents “whose companies are diverse at senior levels are 2.4 times more likely to feel a strong sense of belonging.”

The study also revealed that “women were 23% less likely than men to say their needs were being met by their company’s DEI efforts,” showing that only through effective and genuine DEI implementations and related programmes will women feel valued, included, and happy in the workplace.

The benefits of workplace belonging were also highlighted in the study, including its potential to increase retention and productivity:

  • Two in five (40%) respondents with a strong sense of belonging rarely think about looking for a job elsewhere, versus just 5% of respondents with a low sense of belonging.
  • Nearly half (45%) of respondents with a strong sense of belonging say they are their most productive self at work, versus just 6% with a low sense of belonging.
  • More than half (51%) of respondents with a strong sense of belonging would recommend their company as a great place to work, versus 4% with a low sense of belonging.

The value of recognition was also cited, where “those who reported being recognised in the last week when surveyed are almost twice as likely (49% vs 26%) to have a strong sense of belonging.” Furthermore, only “11% of those never recognised feel a strong sense of belonging.”

The study also found that “more than two in five (41%) respondents with a strong sense of belonging reported their manager regularly recognises them in a way that makes them feel valued, versus just 5% of respondents with a low sense of belonging.”

The study was carried out by Achievers Workforce Institute, a provider of thought leadership insights based on science, data, and research. It is also the research and insights arm of Achievers, a provider of employee voice and recognition solutions that accelerate a performance culture.

Achievers Chief Workforce Scientist Dr Natalie Baumgartner said: “The gender gap in belonging was the largest we found in our data analysis, showing that gender equality continues to be one of the biggest challenges for business leaders. Women do not feel the same sense of belonging that men feel, which means they are less likely to bring their whole selves to work. This impacts productivity, engagement, commitment, and even feeling safe at work.

“Employers need to focus their efforts on initiatives that can make women feel welcomed, known, included, supported, and connected at work. These five pillars of belonging, which correlate positively and significantly with a stronger sense of belonging, create a clear call to action for business leaders.

“With millions of women leaving the workforce in the past 18 months, and women’s workplace participation hitting a 33-year low earlier this year, employers must concentrate on moving the needle in these key areas to ensure women feel as strong a sense of belonging as men and can thrive in the post-pandemic workplace.”

To access the full report, please click here.
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