Recognition and Respect are Key Issues for Women Professionals

iStock_000006684238XSmallBy Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)

According to a new study by Thomson Reuters, today’s professional workforce is collaborative, entrepreneurial, and looking for a way to live their values at work. The study of more than 1,000 professionals in Brazil, China, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States also showed surprising commonalities across genders in terms of work style and habits.

For example, nearly equal proportions of men and women said they prefer an interactive or collaborative team environment (56 percent and 55 percent, respectively). Similarly, 63 percent of both men and women agreed that solving problems is important to them, and 55 percent of men and 56 percent of women said having a vision of what they want to achieve in their careers is important to them. About the same proportions of men and women said challenging work is important to them (53 percent and 56 percent, respectively). Finally, 46 percent and 48 percent of men and women said they want to be able to be entrepreneurial in their jobs.

But the report revealed one big area where genders diverged in how they want to be treated at work: recognition and respect.

According to the data presented in this study, women were more keen to be recognized by management for the work they have accomplished, and they desired more strongly to be respected by their colleagues than men.63 percent of women, compared to 53 percent of men, were much more likely than men to say having their work recognized by superiors is important to them. Similarly, 61 percent of women were also more likely than men to say that gaining the respect of their coworkers was important to them. Gaining the respect of their coworkers was important to just 53 percent of men surveyed.

These are key differences that managers should recognize when leading teams of professionals – either women don’t think they’re getting enough respect at work, or they simply value recognition more than men. Either way, supervisors should take note.

Managing Diverse Teams

The Thomson Reuters study focused on five key global industries: finance and risk, legal, tax and accounting, scientific research and development, and healthcare and health services. It found that, while men and women shared similar work styles and habits, there was one key area where women stood out – recognition and respect.

Eileen Lynch, Senior Vice President, Global Brand Marketing at Thomson Reuters, explained, “It reflects a desire of professionals to have a voice and be recognized by the contributions they make.To the degree that women have not always had that recognition, they are more desirous of it. They are saying ‘value what I do.’”

These findings come as no surprise. It’s rare that a women’s career development panel goes by without someone mentioning this topic. Even Carol Bartz, the former Yahoo! CEO with an undeniable presence, has mentioned being ignored in meetings, only to have her ideas co-opted or attributed to the men at the table.

This was really the only area where male and female respondents differed with respect to goals and values at work, and this should give managers pause. Are women being recognized enough for their contributions? The study indicates that they may not be.

Collaboration and Information

Lynch says she was fascinated by the portrait of today’s professionals that emerged from the research. “They’re saying, ‘I want access to information to help me do my job, and I want it in any format at any time. I want to be able to share that information with people I connect with. I want to create more informed social connections, and I want a sense of purpose in my life that is larger and more important than just myself or my job.’”

“Power and control in the workforce is often found in the holding back of that information. These professionals want access to information that gives them equal footing and equal opportunity,” she explained. “They want a seat at the table.”

Today’s professionals – both men and women also want to work at a company they believe in. “Managers need to look at their employees as people, who want a voice at the table and they want to be recognized for the contributions they are making. They want to work at a place that cares about the things that are consistent with what they care about.”

Ultimately, treating employees as people who can make valuable contributions to a collaborative team, and sharing with them the information they need to do their jobs, will result in a happier, more engaged and more productive workforce.

2 Responses

  1. One of the key indicators of value and respect in our society is the compensation that men and women receive. That is why laws such as equal pay for equal work and equal pay for work of equal value (pay equity) are important. Businesses that understand this will have an advantage in attracting and retaining women who now make up close to fifty percent of the labour market and educated talent pool.

    Emanuela Heyninck
    Pay Equity Commission

  2. That men and women score the same on challenging work surprised me. Often men score higher on remuneration and women do score on that but value the work content and team higher.

    I was just wondering what sort of age the interviewees were. I can imagine priorities change when employees become parents. I have seen many a male university friend following a more irregular career choice, quickly change their mind when they have a baby.