The Status Quo Workplace Is Unsustainable For Advancing Women – Forbes

September 12, 2022

By Marilynn Joyner
The pandemic has catalyzed a shift toward hybrid work models, in which employees work in some … [+] combination of at-home and office environments.
After spending over 10 years as a broker in commercial real estate, I understand how challenging it can be for women to navigate the workplace environment—especially when it consists mostly of men. 37% of commercial real estate professionals are women, with 29% in brokerage positions. More women hold brokerage positions than ever before, yet they earn an astonishing 56% less than men in commissions.
Disparities in financial and professional success for women in commercial real estate can be attributed to a barrage of factors. Gender discrimination, lack of promotion, absence of mentorship, inability to maintain a work-life balance, and constraining family responsibilities are just a few. Many of these challenges are faced by women across other industries, too. Since February 2020, a significant number of women have left the workforce with 1.4 million still without jobs.
Several economic and cultural trends have contributed to this decline, including increased childcare costs and lack of support from organizations. 75% of working women are in hybrid environments, and they feel burned out from overwhelming workloads and lack of opportunities for advancement. Women in junior- to mid-level roles are impacted the most, with 61% feeling burned out.
Overall, women receive less exposure and are excluded from important interactions in hybrid working environments, which are two major catalysts for career progression. Throughout my own career, I’ve found it difficult to develop trustworthy mentor relationships while gaining exposure to projects and career development opportunities. That’s why I know how important it is to face these challenges head on in an effort to better support women in the evolving workplace.
Organizations that prioritize supporting women are working to redefine their long-term workplace strategies with a focus on benefits and career development. These employers will be the ones ahead of the curve both culturally and financially as we continue to adapt to new workplace norms; others should follow in their footsteps if they don’t want to be left behind.
After undergoing significant disruptions to the way we work, many organizations are still evaluating their strategies for returning to the office alongside their peers. As of Spring 2021, 87% of large companies with 10,000 or more employees adopted hybrid work, allowing for employees to spend part of their time working outside of the office.
The motivation for implementing hybrid work models comes from employees as they’ve realized through the pandemic that they can be just as efficient working outside of the office while obtaining a healthier work-life balance. A KPMG survey found 44% of employees believe their work-life balance is better working fully or partially remote. With flexible work, employees are able to reduce their commute time, increase productivity, and spend more time on their mental and physical health. For working families, especially working moms, flexibility also makes it easier to care for children and the elderly.
Employers are learning to navigate shifting preferences for flexible work models.
A study by FlexJobs found 60% of women and 52% of men say they will look for a new job if their company attempts to force them back into the office full-time. Other studies point to similar outcomes: 60% of mothers want to work remotely the majority of the time while only 50% of fathers do. Women are advocating for more flexibility than men, and while men still seek the benefits, the question is whether they are actually using them.
While perceptions of flexible work differ among men and women, both are negatively impacted by this disparity. Only 44% of mothers say their household labor is equally distributed with their partner at home, according to a McKinsey report. The partner who is working remotely or has more flexibility at work is typically the one who takes on more responsibilities within the household. Because women are engaging in hybrid work more than men, at-home duties likely fall on them, which can impact their performance at work.
Additionally, women are already negatively impacted by hybrid working. According to Deloitte, 60% of women feel excluded from meetings, 94% believe their likelihood for promotion has decreased, and 90% think their workload has increased. Women are being held back, especially those in junior- to mid-level roles who are trying to advance. Organizations have to start taking a more active approach in supporting women.
Remote work has made it difficult for employees to participate in company culture and benefit … [+] professionally from in-person collaboration.
Many organizations still crave an in-office experience as it remains integral to company culture. Yet, employers have to adapt to employees’ needs to stay competitive in the marketplace while ensuring they feel engaged at work.
Given the number of women who have left the workforce in recent years, efforts to attract and retain women are becoming more competitive—57% of companies are advancing DEI initiatives internally, and 42% plan to improve ESG reporting, according to PwC. These initiatives increase overall diversity and transparency, thus directly impacting the bottom line. More specifically, for women in junior- to mid-level roles, increased focus on career advancement will improve the likelihood of women stepping into managerial and executive roles. Women continue to be underrepresented in these categories.
Organizations can further support women by setting clear hybrid workplace guidelines to ensure they feel included and valued. Due to power struggles, primarily across genders, ensuring all employees are given the same resources and levels of visibility will help increase inclusiveness and participation.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, more than 58% of parents say they are unable to find childcare, and 26% of parents are unable to afford childcare. Because most women in hybrid working environments are also dealing with household responsibilities, childcare and elderly care support from employers are necessary to increase employee satisfaction and performance.
As the affordability and accessibility of childcare diminishes, parents working are facing new … [+] challenges working from home.
If organizations can increase familial benefits, while ensuring women have all of the tools they need to be successful, their employees will be incentivized to bring the best versions of themselves to the workplace. The primary goal should be to increase the number of inclusive working environments where all women feel supported as they achieve excellence.
Marilynn Joyner ’21
Marilynn Joyner is the Founder of Her Workplace, a newly launched career community platform for corporate women in junior to mid-level roles to exchange knowledge, share stories, and build relationships. Her passion to create Her Workplace came from her own lack of professional development, mentorship, and networking opportunities throughout her career.
She has spent over 10 years as a broker in commercial real estate representing and consulting for organizations on their office leasing initiatives throughout major global and national markets. Her clients throughout her career have ranged from Fortune 500 companies and law firms to start-ups and co-working operators. She’s differentiated herself through her unique knowledge and experience working with a diverse portfolio of companies undergoing various business and real estate challenges.
Marilynn holds an MBA from both Columbia Business School and London Business School, and a Masters in Real Estate from Georgetown University and dual B.A in Dance Performance and Political Science from The University of South Carolina.


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