Diversity & Inclusion

Millennial women and work: Tackling the recruit and retain challenge

Employers can turn up reams of research on millennial employees. They’re generally considered well-educated, tech-savvy workers who crave flexibility and collaboration. But the research rarely focuses on millennial women in the workplace, so employers are left wondering just how they can most effectively recruit, motivate, retain, and get the most out of their female millennial employees.  Happy african student

New research from a consortium of employers and business schools aims to shed light on key factors employers should understand about millennial women. The study from the International Consortium for Executive Development Research (ICEDR) released earlier this year says its conversations with high potential young women show what they want to tell employers. While pointing out that much of the research applies to men as well as women, the report hones in on women and identifies five main themes.

  • “Know me.” The study says millennial women want to tell employers to “invest the time to understand me as a person, including my passions, interests, desires, and needs both in and out of work.”
  • “Challenge me.” Young women want employers to know that they want to continue their learning through new challenges and they see multiple paths to advancement.
  • “Connect me.” Millennial women also want employers to know that they “want to interact, collaborate, and build relationships with a dynamic network of peers, leaders, mentors, coaches, and sponsors.”
  • “Inspire me.” Young women are saying “I want purpose from my workplace from which I derive a sense of meaning.”
  • “Unleash me.” They’re also telling their employers that they want to lead initiatives, have their voices heard, experiment, and use their entrepreneurial flair.

“The themes ‘know me,’ ‘challenge me,’ ‘connect me,’ ‘inspire me,’ and ‘unleash me’ were common threads throughout our conversations with emerging women leaders,” the study report’s authors write. “While these lessons resonate with talent across gender and generational lines, we believe that these values are even more important to millennial women, especially during key transition points. For example, when a woman enters motherhood, she may need support to stay connected to a community of other mothers at the company and her need for flexibility to be known.”

The report, by researchers Lauren Noel, director of women’s leadership Initiatives at ICEDR, and Christie Hunter Arscott, an independent adviser and strategist, includes five questions employers can ask themselves to gauge how whether they are in the best position to advance millennial women.

  • How effective is your organization at providing millennial women with the flexibility they need?
  • How effective is your company at providing female stars with stimulating experiences and stretch assignments?
  • How effective is your organization at connecting emerging women leaders to an interesting community of peers?
  • How effective is your company at creating opportunities for bright young women to learn from senior-level women executives?
  • How effective is your company at giving high-flying women the responsibility to lead initiatives?

Other research on millennial women in the workforce shows a more confident and ambitious group than previous female generations. PricewaterhouseCoopers released a report in March on a survey of 8,756 women born between 1980-1995 from 75 countries to learn their feeling about the world of work and their careers. The report, “The Female Millennial: A New Era of Talent,” includes these highlights:

  • Millennial women named opportunities to progress in their careers as the most attractive employer trait.
  • Nearly half, 49 percent, of female millennials starting their careers believe they can reach the top levels with their current employer.
  • Eighty-six percent of the millennial women in a relationship are part of a dual-career couple. Sixty-six percent earn the same or more than their partner or spouse.
  • Almost half of the women surveyed say employers are too male biased when deciding on internal promotions.
  • Seventy-one percent said they don’t think opportunities are equal for all.

Another recent study shows that millennial women today are much more likely to be a part of the workforce than young women of previous generations. Research released in March from the Pew Research Center looks at the employment status of various generations when they were 18 to 33 years old.

In 1963, when women of the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1943) were 18 to 33 years old, 59 percent were not working outside the home. Just 38 percent were employed.

The pattern of the Silent Generation “has flipped” for today’s women age 18 to 33, the research states, since 63 percent of millennial women are employed and just 31 percent aren’t in the labor force. “This shift to more women in the workplace occurred as early as 1980, when Boomers were 18-33,” the research states. At that time, 60 percent of young boomer women were employed while just 35 percent were not in the labor force.

Want to learn more?

By 2025, three out of every four workers will be Millennials. Now, consider that 63 percent of U.S. executives will be eligible to retire in the next five years, yet Generation X is not large enough to fill this leadership gap. This means that many Millennials will have to leap frog into these positions.Tune in to the webinar Next-Generation Leadership: Three Proven Ways to Strengthen Your Leadership Bench. Participate in this interactive webinar on September 15 and learn more about emerging trends that are shaping Millennials’ perception of leadership and work so you can better manage your workplace.