In support of its mission to advance economic development and promote gender equity, REACH Women’s Network launched the Community Survey of Women in the Workplace in September of 2022. This quantitative study allowed women to anonymously share their thoughts, preferences, and experiences related to job satisfaction and personal and professional barriers impacting their career growth.
The goal of this comprehensive survey was to provide employers with actionable information to support women in the workplace with an aim toward positioning Winston-Salem as a city where working women thrive.
The survey was funded in part by grants from the Richard J. Reynolds, III and Marie M. Reynolds Foundation, Twin City Development Foundation, and Woody Clinard. Strategic marketing firm Girl on the Roof donated services toward the survey strategy, design, and promotion. Nonprofit market research firm Forsyth Futures was contracted to perform the quantitative analysis. Although employers were encouraged to promote and distribute the survey to their female-identifying employees, no corporate dollars were used to fund the survey development. This helped ensure the integrity of the survey and its findings.
Initial survey results were unveiled at the REACH Women’s Conference held in April of 2023. During the presentation of survey findings, more than 300 conference attendees were invited to contribute to qualitative research, answering two questions in small groups:
What can your employer do to help reduce stress levels in the workplace?
What can employers do to improve workplace culture for women?
The responses to these questions were so robust that REACH opted to integrate them in its analysis and reporting.
Following the conference, REACH Women’s Network identified a number of themes for further exploration, with analysis including disaggregation by race, age (generally categorized by generation), size of employer (number of employees), and income. With additional support from Forsyth Futures and Girl on the Roof, REACH has launched a blog series to dive more deeply into these notable themes. REACH Women’s Network hopes that this series will equip employers in our community with valuable insights to help support women in the workplace.
The Business Case for Women
Research has shown that organizations with women in positions of leadership are more profitable, more innovative (holding more patents and fostering cultures of collaborative R&D), more socially and environmentally responsible, and have higher employee retention. Indeed, according to Harvard Business Review, adding women to the C-suite changes how companies think… for the better. That’s in part because women are more open to change while simultaneously reducing associated risks.
Research from LeanIn and McKinsey & Company indicates that women are reaching the C-Suite at record rates, securing 28% of top leadership positions, but pipeline problems could limit those gains. In order for more women to climb higher, they need a chance to climb earlier. Men are promoted faster than women (even though women receive higher performance ratings), so men get a head start on the upward climb to management positions. With fewer positions at the top, openings may not exist even for women who outperform their male peers.
This isn’t just a gender issue. This is a business issue and an economic development issue.
REACH Women’s Network hopes that the What She Said blog series will help employers take meaningful steps to ensure their workplaces are truly equitable. This isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also good business.
One of the core values of REACH Women’s Network reads:
We believe that advancing gender equity is a universal movement and that elevating the voice and influence of women will strengthen the vitality, creativity, productivity, and sustainability of our families, our workplaces, our economy, and our community.
Where women thrive, businesses thrive. And where businesses thrive, communities thrive.