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Why women may get less engaged as they advance to more senior roles

Results of a BCG study on employee engagement as a critical factor of a company’s success found that in companies with lower overall engagement, “senior women feel the pain disproportionately.”

For both men and women, engagement typically increases with rising seniority as the individual takes on greater responsibility and has more direct contact with the C-suite. But differences between women and men were seen when a company’s overall engagement is lower.

The study involved 345,000 individuals who were asked to answer questions about their attitude and experience in their organization related to seven areas. In the order of importance based on women’s responses, they are: appreciation; work-life balance (which the study connects to flexibility); cooperation and good relations with colleagues; mentorship, sponsorship and a strong relationship with managers; compensation and promotion opportunities; job attributes; and company objectives and aspirations. The study compared men’s and women’s responses and found in many instances that men’s satisfaction in these areas outpaced women’s as the individual rose in the organization.

The report also suggests how companies can improve engagement by revising the ways employees interact with each other and with management.

Recommended solutions include:

    • Rewrite the rules for recognition and feedback
    • Provide flexible work models
    • Ensure that compensation processes are transparent and there is no gender-based pay gap
    • Give senior managers more latitude to shape their job responsibilities
    • Support peer-to-peer connections
    • Hold leaders accountable for improvements
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