Saturday, November 3, 2012

The workplace: It's all about strong women and strong opinions

Allow me to share two more studies I came across. The first was conducted by Booz & Co and addresses women empowerment. The purpose of this study was to determine what holds women back from fulfilling their career potential and to offer solutions that help overcome these obstacles.

What the authors found was that as traditional caregivers, women have been repeatedly pressured to leave their careers and tend to family needs. This does not extend only to the immediate family - spouses and children - but also includes elderly parents as well.

The study, which spanned 128 countries and surveyed only working women, substantiated setbacks found in similar surveys, such as the gender wage gap, bias toward women, lack of female mentors and inaccessibility to funding for business ownership. Such obstacles discourage women from pursuing their career goals and diminishes their need for professional advancement.

The solution? Awareness and support. Managers must recognize these obstacles and troubleshoot them. Taking simple steps such as offering to pay for care providers or evaluating pay policies would discourage women from leaving the workforce. The study estimates that such small changes can significantly raise a country's GDP.

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The next study challenges the traditional notion of separation of company and politics. Between the years 2000 and 2008, political discussions in the workplace have increased by 15 percentage points. As it turns out, employees welcome these talks and a surprising 35 percent believe their employer is a more reliable source of information than the media. A 2010 study revealed that 60 percent of employees even trusted their employers enough to make political decisions.

I don't know about this. Public sector workers are protected by free speech, unlike those working at private companies. I prefer to play it safe and keep my opinions on the down low. You'll never know what can be misconstrued or used against you. Unless, of course, legislation passes allowing me to unleash my rather strong political opinions.

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