Empowering women in the workplace

By on March 10, 2014

Globally organisations are challenged with a lack of women in leadership positions and are fast becoming concerned with the competitive and financial toll this could mean for their companies. Meanwhile, they are also facing the challenges that come with the vast numbers of millennial talent entering and reshaping the workforce, according to a report issued by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). 

To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March 2014, PwC’s report focuses on what organisations can do to create the right environment for millennial women to flourish in the workplace. The report Next generation diversity – Developing tomorrow’s female leaders identifies six key themes which are integral to the successful attraction, retention, and development of the female millennial.

Born between 1980 and 1995, female millennials make up a significant proportion of the current and future talent pool. Attracting the best of these millennial workers is critical to the future of an organisation. “Millennials matter because they are not only different from those that have gone before, they are also more numerous than any since the soon-to-retire Baby Boomer generation,” says Gugu Mtetwa, PwC Transformation Leader for South Africa.

Between 1980 and 2008, 552 million women joined the global labour force and a further one billion women are anticipated to enter the workforce over the next decade. The make-up of the labour force is not the only thing that has changed, enrolment in tertiary level education has also soared.

“Diversity is a key issue for us, which is why we were keen to focus on female millennials. We recruit a rich diversity of talent every year from schools across the world, including thousands of very talented millennial women. We want to think about the environment that will help those women succeed now so they’re primed for the future,” says Dennis Nally, Chairman of PwC International.

The report shows that millennials tend to seek out employers with a strong record on diversity. This is important to the female millennial, with 82 percent identifying an employer’s policy on diversity, equality, and workforce inclusion as important when deciding whether or not to work for an organisation. The perception of gender bias in the workplace also remains a concern for female millennials.

Being able to balance work and life is important to nearly all millennials, and appears slightly more important to the female millennial with 97 percent identifying it as important to them and 74 percent saying it is very important.

One of the strongest millennial traits is that they welcome and expect regular feedback on their job performance. More than half of female millennials said feedback should be given very frequently or continually on the job, while only one percent said feedback was not very important to them. “Setting clear targets and proving regular and structured feedback will be very important to the female millennial,” adds Mtetwa.

Female millennials are projected to form approximately 25 percent of the global workforce by 2020, according to the study. “Forming talent strategies tailored for this talent segment will be a vital step to the sustainability of any organisation,” says Mtetwa.

Topco Media have been recognising and celebrating the leading ladies in business and government in South Africa for more than a decade through the Top Women in Business & Government publication and Top Women Awards.

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