Reinventing Gender Diversity Programs for a Post-Pandemic World | BCG

Leadership & Culture

I have posted extensively over the past two years about the pandemic’s impact on various worker segments, including women in the workplace. One post that received much attention is’s 2021 Women in the Workplace Report—a report produced annually since 2015 and the most extensive study on the state of women in corporate America. The 2021 report outlined various challenges many women have faced during the pandemic, such as having to drop out of the workforce because of work and home demands, especially those women who are primary caregivers in their families. But as noted in the BCG article, traditional approaches to DEI gender initiatives need to be reimagined to reflect the new-found priorities and values of many working women. To shed light on this topic, the authors analyzed women’s motivations and how they make decisions about jobs and careers in a post-pandemic world. One finding shown in Exhibit 5 is that while a great deal of DEI work is unsurprisingly focused on addressing women’s functional needs—including compensation, benefits, and work-life balance, the analysis shows the fulfillment of emotional needs—such as feeling valued, supported, and respected—correlates more strongly with women’s happiness at work and in shaping positive employee outcomes. One limitation of studying worker preferences by one-dimensional characteristics (e.g. woman) is that it doesn’t capture the multifaceted components of one’s identity (e.g, woman, single parent, caretaker of an elderly parent, etc.) and changes in context (e.g., a person’s individual situation changes). Therefore, the article addresses the importance of segmentation and “looking beyond the woman label. Exhibit 6. includes 11 key segments of women based on a hierarchy of needs unique to the individuals in each segment. Firms can use the data points from this research and other studies on women in the workplace to provide directional guidance on shifting preferences; however, manager conversations with their direct reports should be used to determine what matters most to each individual.

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