Women lag behind men on sense of belonging and feeling valued at work, new survey reveals

TORONTO, ON, August 31, 2021 — A quarter (26%) of global employees surveyed in the 2021 Culture Report on belonging at work, from Achievers Workforce Institute reported a strong sense of belonging in the workplace, but this number increases to nearly one-third for men (31%) and just one in five (22%) for women.  The Achievers Workforce Institute is the research and insights arm of Achievers, the progressive choice for employee voice and recognition solutions that accelerate a culture of performance.

The survey polled more than 3,500 employed respondents globally and found a strong sense of belonging correlated with higher engagement, job commitment, productivity, and more.

The gender gap in belonging was the largest we found in our data analysis, showing that gender equality continues to be one of the biggest challenges for business leaders, –  says Achievers Chief Workforce Scientist Dr. Natalie Baumgartner. Women do not feel the same sense of belonging that men feel and this means they are less likely to be bringing their whole selves to work. This impacts productivity, engagement, commitment and even feeling safe at work.

Women trail men on almost every factor of belonging

From work-life balance to pay equity, when it comes to feeling known and being included, women consistently reported lower results than male respondents with respect to these belonging factors. Women were 25% less likely to say they felt comfortable sharing a dissenting opinion and were 20% less likely to say their unique background and identity were valued at their company.

Employers need to focus their efforts on initiatives that can make women feel welcomed, known, included, supported, and connected at work, Baumgartner says. These five pillars of belonging, which all correlate positively and significantly with a stronger sense of belonging, create a clear call to action to business leaders. With millions of women leaving the workforce in the past 18 months, and women’s workplace participation hitting a 33-year low earlier this year, employers must concentrate on moving the needle in these key areas to ensure women feel as strong a sense of belonging as men and can thrive in the post-pandemic workplace.

Even tactics known to help encourage belonging can create a gender divide when not implemented equitably. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are an effective way to ensure employees have a space that helps them feel known and valued. However, women were 24% less likely than men to say their company had ERGs that help them feel connected. This points to a gap in organizations’ approach to supporting women.

Additional key findings from the 2021 Culture Report on belonging at work include:

Diversity, equity, and inclusion foster belonging

Respondents whose companies are diverse at senior levels are 2.4 times more likely to feel a strong sense of belonging. DEI efforts must be aimed at women and other marginalized groups to be effective. While it may seem that gender equality has been a focus of DEI programs for at least two decades, women were 23% less likely than men to say their needs were being met by their company’s DEI efforts.

Belonging is a key factor for organizational success

Belonging correlates positively with many individual traits that are necessary for organizational success, including engagement, commitment, productivity, resilience, and satisfaction.

  • Two in five (40%) respondents with a strong sense of belonging rarely think about looking for a job elsewhere, versus just 5% of respondents with a low sense of belonging
  • Nearly half (45%) of respondents with a strong sense of belonging say they are their most productive self at work, versus just 6% with a low sense of belonging
  • More than half (51%) of respondents with a strong sense of belonging would recommend their company as a great place to work, versus 4% with a low sense of belonging

Recognition is a key driver of inclusion and the experience of belonging

Those who reported being recognized in the last week when surveyed are almost twice as likely (49% vs 26%) to have a strong sense of belonging compared to average, while just 11% of those never recognized feel a strong sense of belonging. Furthermore, more than two in five (41%) respondents with a strong sense of belonging reported their manager regularly recognizes them in a way that makes them feel valued, versus just 5% of respondents with a low sense of belonging

For more information about the 2021 Culture of Belonging report ways to move the needle on belonging and engagement, download the report here.

This data is based on an internet survey conducted by the Achievers Workforce Institute in June 2021. The sample size included 3,582 respondents. Respondents came a range of industries and company sizes, from Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States.

Note to Editors: When referencing the survey, please cite: “The Achievers Workforce Institute 2021 Culture Report on Belonging at Work”

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