Why Women Executives are Less Engaged Than Men

Bethany Bishop and Don Harkey discuss why women executives seem to be less engaged than men in the workforce.

By guest bloggers Bethany Bishop & Don Harkey of People Centric Consulting Group

Jan 02 2018 at 9:40 a.m.

According to Gallop's 2017 State of the American Workplace, 33% of U.S. employees are engaged (30% men, 36% women):

However, these numbers shift when looking at the executive level:

• 50% of executive men are engaged

• 35% of executive women are engaged

 This leaves us with a question - why?

Well, rather than having the answer, we want to challenge you to think about:

Career Path
Women are more engaged than men throughout their career until they reach the executive level. What happens throughout the career of a woman that is different from the career of a man?

Socializing at Work
Studies show you are more likely to get promoted at work if you socialize and interact with top level managers. Considering that most executives are still men, does this present a barrier to overcome?

How We Think
It is often said that men and women think different. Is this true and how does this impact the work environment?

Changing Standards
There are four (4) different generations working together in large numbers for the first time. Older generations are more likely to be in executive positions. Have standards changed and how might this be impacting the workplace?

Dating at Work
You are single. Another single co-worker asks you politely if you would be interested in going out on a date. You politely decline. What happens next? What do you think about the situation?

Sexual Harassment
The #metoo movement has exposed the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace. Yet, statistics vary widely about how common it is. Is sexual harassment a problem? Is it a common problem? How prevalent is it?

Again, we don't have the answer. However, we do believe that communication and mutual respect are keys to employee engagement. This is why we're asking you to sit at the table and have conversations with both men and women in your community. Listen and ask questions to understand various perspectives. Talk about what you are seeing and what is being discussed in the news and media. Until we begin to communicate and truly understand each other's viewpoints, we won't be able to find the answer.

BONUS: Shared Perspectives

We asked these same questions at our recent leadership development event, Leadership Mastermind, and received various responses:

• Some claimed or agreed that top executives (who are mostly male) may inadvertently exclude    women from social events for a variety of reasons. These reasons included selecting activities that more men would enjoy to fit in with the majority and being outright afraid of socializing with women in fear of being accused of harassment or improper relationships.

• Most of women present felt very strongly that their career paths were heavily influenced by their gender. Some questioned if men and women had different definitions of success. One even pointed out that our Mastermind meets at a time that is very difficult for working mothers to attend. While men were aware of these challenges, it was striking how the men observe the challenges while women live them.

• Most participants agreed that the definitions of "harassment" vary widely at work. When asked about the scenario of a single coworker asking another coworker on a date, the difference in thinking between genders was apparent. Most pf the men in the room focused on whether it was appropriate to ask the other person out in the first place, while a majority of the women focused on what happens after the person is asked out observing all the potential repercussions and impacts.

Bethany Bishop is the Office Coordinator at People Centric, and you can learn all about her here. Don Harkey is the Chief Innovation Officer at People Centric Consulting Group, and you can learn all about him here, and what People Centric strives to accomplish here.

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