Women’s career development is as big an issue as the gender pay gap

The Happiness Index has revealed that women’s unhappiness with their lack of career opportunities is an issue as significant as the gender pay gap.

Tony Latter, CEO, writing in Personnel Today, explained that their recent survey showed that regardless of sector and company size, women do not feel as valued as their male colleagues. 

“When we discuss females feeling less valued, we aren’t solely talking about pay. It’s part of a wider picture of women feeling unhappier than men at work. This suggests the concerns of female workers are not being addressed, in much the same way as pay levels have been overlooked for too long.”

From the study, it was clear “Career development opportunities” were a serious issue. Women across all levels of seniority rated their career development opportunities as only 5.8 out of 10. 

These findings were replicated in another study by The Happiness Index looking at what factors affected the loyalty and likelihood that workers would promote the business they worked for.

As with the study into workplace happiness, that men scored higher than women, meaning they were more engaged and satisfied at work. 

Men emphasised a need for higher wages and more opportunities for career development, while women focused on the need for increased appreciation, communication and respect. Both men and women highlighted a need to feel valued.

“These attitudes are at the heart of the issue of unhappiness among women in today’s workplace. Our research showed that feeling valued was directly correlated to career progression,” said Latter.

Latter explains why happiness is key to business performance: ‘Happiness is a catalyst for higher performance, enhanced creativity and productivity – all of which are vital attributes that employers will look for in deciding who should advance and fill higher-profile roles in the business.’

Giving access to development training and opportunities is one of the quickest ways for companies to improve the happiness of female employees at work, says Latter.

“To be successful and create the right culture, businesses need to introduce initiatives to cultivate happiness across as much of the workforce as possible. But our evidence shows there is still a lot of work to do to reap the benefits of a happier female workforce and putting more thought into career opportunities is a good place to start.”