A new study has found that efforts to improve gender diversity in the workforce may be being hampered by focusing on issues that make women feel more satisfied rather than helping them achieve promotion.
According to the study, which surveyed 3,000 female and male professionals, the features of working life that provide women with career satisfaction are vastly different from those that drive career progression, HR Magazine reports.
Critical job assignments, politically-skilled networking and risk-embracing seeking of opportunities are the factors which lead to women's career progression, according to IBM company Kenexa.
In terms of what makes them satisfied with career progression, women gave different responses. The answers given include having fair and objective HR processes in place to support promotion decisions as well as having a supportive line manager who believes in their potential.
A clear plan about how to advance their career and achieve their goals also made women feel satisfied with their progression.
According to Kenexa senior psychologist at the High Performance Institute and report author Ines Wichert, the findings of the report could account for the slower progress of women to top positions. She points out that feeling satisfied with progression opportunities offers no guarantee of securing promotion.
"This could explain why many organisations struggle to see change as a result of their gender diversity initiatives – perhaps they are focusing on initiatives that make women feel more satisfied, but not on initiatives that drive actual promotions and therefore career progression for women," she commented.
Ms Wichert added that employers need to take this information into account when planning their gender diversity initiatives.
Campaign group Opportunity Now director Kathryn Nawrockyi said her studies show that companies with more women in leadership roles are twice as likely to have gender-focused objectives forming part of their diversity strategy.
Further findings of the report show that the "golden age" of career progression is considered to be between 28 and 34; thereafter, promotions and job satisfaction are said to decrease.