Women Powering Business – What Women Want at Work

The subject of women in leadership roles has been getting more attention in recent years. In fact, according to a recent study titled “Women Matter” by management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., companies with women in top management or board positions perform better.

While the number of women in leadership positions has been low historically, their ranks are growing. According to a 2012 ranking of the 500 largest corporations in the United States, 18 companies are led by female CEOs, up from 12 in 2011.  The staffing industry, for example, is making great strides in recruiting women for some of their highest positions. We are seeing this in practice at Randstad, where many members of our top leadership, in the U.S and internationally, are women.

Further, the 2012 election ushered in a historic 40 women into Senate positions through the country.

The National Center of Education Statistics predicts that 57 percent of the nation’s college enrollment will be comprised of females next year, with more women earning advanced and doctoral degrees than ever before.

With this influx of women leaders, companies are paying more attention to gender diversity by building a pipeline for future female talent and creating environments that foster successful women leaders.  To that end, more companies are looking at ways to engage and retain top female talent with successful results. According to our recent Randstad Engagement Index, a majority of women surveyed said they felt committed to and happy in their jobs. Sixty-eight percent of women indicated that they enjoy going to work each day. Women also shared some of the top effective strategies to engage them, with bonuses or promotions for high-performing employees ranking at the top. Also on the list was a comfortable work environment and encouragement for employees to share their ideas and opinions.

However, a disconnect exists between what women want and what their employers practice. For instance, companies routinely use annual performance reviews as an engagement tool, yet this practice ranked lower in priority among women surveyed.

Flexibility and adaptability are the two most important attributes needed for a successful career, according to women surveyed. These key factors ranked higher than knowledge of technology and teamwork.  Such findings can serve as a guide for companies as they offer incentives and tools to female employees.

With more women leaders at the top, companies can create environments where female employees can grow and thrive. Now is the time to continue the dialogue between women employees and companies on ways to recruit and retain top female talent.


Eileen Habelow

Eileen Habelow
Eileen Habelow is the senior vice president of organizational development with Randstad US.

Eileen Habelow

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