The movie 9 to 5, a film about three working women who kidnapped their egotistical boss to make positive changes to their office, came out 40 years ago this year. While it may seem dated and laughable now, data shows women are still asking for some of the same benefits that Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton enacted.
But, first, let’s discuss the advantages of a diverse company. Anyone worth their salt knows that with diversity comes more ideas. We now have research that proves that gender-diverse companies financially outperform their less diverse competition, but, unfortunately, the percentage of women in the workforce has dropped from a high of 77% in 1999 to around 74%. The U.S. is the only OECD country to have fewer women bringing home paychecks now than in 2015. You may be asking, just what is it that women want? Is there a panacea that would keep more women in the job market? Is it more money? I think we ALL want more money to rub together. What women really want is a little more complex than that.
- Flexible schedules: Women really do it all. We are mothers, wives, caregivers, owners of discriminating pets, personal chefs to tiny food critics, students, supportive friends, and somewhere we must fit time in for ourselves and our goals. Flextime is a huge draw for female employees. With flextime, we wouldn’t have to use our PTO balance or potentially quit our jobs because we have to go to a doctor’s appointment during the day or take on a caregiver role.
- PTO (Paid time off): When surveyed, women rated this benefit as somewhat more important than men, and why wouldn’t they? We feel as if we are always being pulled in a million directions. It is a luxury to take a day off, and still get paid.
- Mentoring: Women scored mentorship as high on a survey about company benefits. Mentors can help women network, and they can spur great ideas. Sadly, many women don’t know how to find mentors and companies are slow to start official programs.
- Meaningful work: If women are leaving their children and their myriad of other responsibilities every day, to commute, and potentially sit in a cubicle, they want to feel like the work that they do is important. In other words, we don’t want to be desk warmers who push paper. Help us feel like we are achieving something valuable.
- More money: You didn’t think I would forget it, did you? This is why we toil day after day, isn’t it? Yes, women want all of the above, but they would also like to see more money on their checks, and studies show that they ask for it at slightly higher rates than men. Today, women still earn .80.7 cents on the dollar that men earn. That’s median annual earnings of $9,909 less than men. That’s a lot of shoes, or whatever else your heart desires.
The good news is that companies are slowly listening to the benefits that are important to women and making changes. There won’t be any kidnapping here! I think that Judy, Violet, and Doralee would approve.