Salaries fail to meet the ambitions of women of colour

Ambition is paying off for women of colour but wages are not

CNBC and Momentive’s “Women at Work” survey timed for Women’s History Month reveals the effects of the pandemic on working women in the US over the past 12 months. Here are the key points.

Great news. The survey finds that working women are more ambitious than last year, and almost half (49%) of working women describe themselves as “very ambitious” when it comes to their careers. We are up to four points from the 2021 survey but five points below the pre-pandemic 2020 survey. 

Previous surveys show that ambition remains the highest for women of colour. 66% of Black women, 55% of Hispanic women, and 46% of Asian women say they are “very ambitious,” versus 44% of White women. 

With a growing emphasis on diversity in the workplace, that ambition is paying off for women of colour and younger women. 32% of 18–34 years olds say their career has advanced in the last year, compared to 19% of 35–64 years olds women. Young women and women of colour are also more likely than older women and White women to say they talk to their managers frequently about their career goals. 19% of Black women say they talk to their manager about their career every week, compared to 13% of White women.

But the salaries are not higher

We are not there yet. 28% of Hispanic women and 26% of Black women say their careers have advanced in the past 12 months. Although women of colour are advancing in their careers, the salaries are not higher. 42% of White women say they earn more than they did a year ago, compared to 40% of Black women and 33% of Hispanic women. 

Overall, the survey finds 20% of working women say their career has advanced in the past 12 months, up six points from 2021. More than a third (34%) of women in the workforce are “very satisfied” with the amount of career growth available to them at their current jobs, which is similar to the pre-pandemic level. 

Workplaces still a challenge for mothers

The survey also found that working mothers continue to have a tougher time in the workplace than other women. 29% of women with children under 18 say their career has taken a setback in the last 12 months, versus 18% of women with older children or no children. 23% of women with children under 18 say their salary is lower now than it was a year ago, versus 15% of women with no children and 17% of women with children 18 and older. 

“Companies are boosting wages and offering big perks in the scramble to keep workers happy, but women who quit their jobs in the last year were more likely to be looking for better work-life integration than more cash or swag,” says Jon Cohen, Chief Research Officer at Momentive.

“These data indicate that working mothers, in particular, are prioritising mental health as they work to accelerate their careers.”

You can view the complete results of the survey here.

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