Who’s doing the laundry? and other insights from the Women in the Workplace 2018 report

LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company just released Women in the Workplace 2018, the fourth annual study on the state of women in corporate America. The 279 companies that participated in this survey employ more than 13 million people.

The key finding is that companies continue to report they are highly committed to gender diversity yet women continue to be vastly underrepresented at every level. There is a disconnect.

You might think that women have not done their part but, according to this study, that would be wrong. They’ve been earning more bachelor’s degrees than men for decades. They’re asking for promotions and negotiating salaries at the same rates as men. And, contrary to conventional wisdom, they are staying in the workforce at the same rate as men.

As a work-life balance advocate, what caught my eye was this recommended action step: Offer employees the flexibility to fit work into their lives.

According to the study: “A majority of companies offer employees some flexibility to ease work-life friction, such as the ability to work part-time or telecommute. But fewer companies address the unique challenges faced by parents. Less than two-thirds of companies offer maternity leave beyond what’s required by law, and just over half offer fathers the same benefit. Far fewer companies have programs designed to ease employee transitions to and from extended leave, even though those periods can be particularly challenging for employees and their families. And ongoing support for parents—like subsidized or on-site child care—is still uncommon. Programs like these make a difference: it’s easier to focus on your job when you know that your children are well cared for.”

In addition to what employers can offer, this is also a wake-up call for what we can each do to enjoy better balance while staying productive. One area to address is sharing home responsibilities. This study shows most women still do most of the work. Cooking, cleaning and caring for the children. For many working couples, that might mean delegating some of that work to others and ditching the guilt that we can’t “do it all.” Consider talking with members of your team about recommended resources and even ways to broach the subject.

Also, as I share in my work-life balance program, consider what you do to manage your energy (are you taking time to relax and recharge?), clean out the clutter (start with unnecessary obligations and your digital devices) and be more mindful (so you can make more conscious choices and enjoy the present moment).

What are your thoughts about the state of women in the workplace? Read the Women in the Workplace 2018 report and share your insights here. 


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