What Women Want at Work: The View from Latin America

You might recognize the title of this article as a take on the famous 2000 film, “What Woman Want.” Today, we’re focused on what women want specifically at work. To start, working women are looking for organizations that combat the gender pay gap, provide flexible hours, and allow them to move up the career ladder. Unfortunately, many women think organizations aren’t doing enough to meet those needs.

At least, this is what women think in Latin America. I’m powerfully struck by the fact that women have mentioned other attributes important at work, besides equality (race, age, or similar factors) in the workplace or work-life balance. In terms of what’s important in labor life, there’s also job security, as in less fear of losing their jobs.

In the current labor scenario, when they are looking for a job — or changing jobs — they also think about macro-factors, such as inflation and legal changes in their countries. In Mexico, as in other countries, there is a discussion in the legislative chamber to establish a four-day work week. Well, 35% of women would exchange 5% of their salary for a four-day week, while 16% would if they could work remotely, according to ManpowerGroup’s “What Women Want” survey.

The Regional Point of View

When 4,000 women were consulted on what they want the future of work to be like, it was found that job security was impacted by the following aspects: 

  • 20% said that the pandemic has made them want more security about their future. 
  • 25% are anxious about changing jobs because of economic uncertainty.
  • 50% of women said they would leave their current organization for more pay and benefits.
  • 30% would leave for better work-life balance.

In Mexico, one in three women believes macroeconomic uncertainty is a threat to their job. And both 15% of men and women seek salary increases in line with inflation. It is not a secret, and it’s not a picture that will change, that women want access to the same opportunities and resources as their male counterparts in the workplace.

But perhaps, and this is a point worth following up on, it’s very important to reflect on how they make decisions about job moves. Based on economic indicators, but mostly on the impact managers have on their work life. This is something that concerns women all over the world: what happens when your boss doesn’t see you, because you are in a hybrid work scheme for greater flexibility? Will you have the same opportunities for growth?

Managers and Mentors Matter

About 80% of female say they would like their leaders to understand/know them better, from their workload to the challenges of being a caregiver while balancing a professional career. According to the data, when working remotely or in a hybrid work environment, women are more concerned than men about the progression of their careers. The data also shows that women are less likely to have remote access to important career development benefits. Let’s look closer at the numbers.

According to ManpowerGroup, more women say they are less likely to have remote access to:

  • Time with senior leaders (37% female vs. 32% male)
  • Learning from others (31% vs. 28%)
  • Consideration for a promotion (29% vs. 26%)
  • Brainstorming and collaboration (27 % vs. 23 %)
  • Receiving training (22% vs. 20%)
  • Expanding opportunities (23% vs. 21%)
  • Regular performance reviews (20% vs. 18%)

To address the concerns of women in remote or hybrid work environments, companies should prioritize offering training and development programs that provide employees with the necessary skills and knowledge to advance their careers. They should also have access to mentors.

I truly believe that there are two necessary actions to take. To start, as an employer, encourage professional development and offering training. According to international figures, only 30% of women are offered training compared with 40% of men. In fact, 9% of women hold memberships in industry associations compared with 14% of men.

Second (and this is extremely valuable), as a manager or superior, learn and give yourself the time to engage in career planning. More than 40% of women do not believe that their bosses recognize their skills or potential (or even know about their career paths, in some cases).

With these stats in mind, here are some recommendations for managers to better support women at work: 

  • Educate yourself on gender bias in the workplace. Understand the challenges that women face in advancing their careers and how you can help mitigate them.
  • Listen, listen, and listen to the experiences and feedback of women in your organization. Ask for their input on how the company can better support their career development and advancement.
  • Offer mentorship and sponsorship opportunities to women in your organization. This can include offering career guidance, providing opportunities for skill building and networking, and advocating for their career advancement.
  • Evaluate the pay structure and address any gender pay gaps that may exist. Ensure that women are paid fairly and equitably for their work.