Most women in the UK are dissatisfied with their jobs, according to a Bain & Company survey. Too many are stuck in middle management positions or opt out of career advancement because they lack corporate support to balance family obligations with professional aspirations. Many companies offer gender parity programmes aimed to keep talented women engaged with their careers, but these programmes haven’t solved the problem.
Now family dynamics are changing. There are more dual-income households as more women pursue careers that are as demanding as their husbands’. And increasingly, the struggle to balance work and family—traditionally a challenge faced mostly by women—is affecting men as well. The gender parity programmes that sought to address these pressures for women are now necessary for all employees. And recognizing this cultural shift will give companies the competitive edge they need to attract and retain top talent.
But there’s a lot of work to be done before companies can enjoy those benefits. The existing programmes don’t advance women’s careers, and until they do, they won’t help men either.
Bain’s 2013 survey of 820 British men and women, at all career levels, suggests that although many companies provide gender parity programmes, those programmes aren’t succeeding due to the lack of leaders supporting them and failure of both sexes to commit to changing their behaviours.