Ten years ago researchers began to notice that the image of working women was changing. The employment firm Lee Hecht Harrison surveyed 143 female human resources executives and found only 31 percent of long-tenured businesswomen think the women coming into the professional business world are more career-minded than their own generation.
That was just the beginning, as the realities of working women have continued to grow and evolve at a dramatic rate. It’s not news that women are more likely to be the primary caregivers in a family, but increasingly, they are primary breadwinners, too. Four in 10 American households with children under age 18 now include a mother who is either the sole or primary earner for her family, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census and polling data, a number that has quadrupled since 1960.
Women in the workplace today also see those coming out of school as better able to achieve work-life balance. This is partly because employers offer flexible employee programs and partly because women today believe that they really can balance a life and career, and as a result are demanding the flexibility to create it.
An Ernst & Young study finds that Millennial women in particular are so serious about finding work-life balance, they’re willing to relocate to find it. Millennials are also more willing than other generations to pass up a promotion, change jobs, take a pay cut, or even change careers in order to achieve more flexibility. Millennials are an influential generation, perhaps destined to be as influential in their time as the Baby Boomers were in theirs. And just as the Baby Boomers changed the face of the workplace a generation ago, Millennials are on their way to doing the same in the years to come.
Women are not only demanding flexibility, they are connecting with other women in order to create change. By connecting with other women in both personal and work spheres, they are stepping into their own power. Employers are noticing, and those who want to attract and keep top talent realize they have to adapt to the changing dynamics. As a result, some are making adjustments to their compensation and benefits packages to ensure they have the tools in place to support employees’ work and life needs.
As my Leading Women co-author Linda Rendleman says, “Our stories are singular, but our passions are shared.” The workplace, and the world, is changing, and the women-helping-women movement grows through each and every connection. We create our greatest impact when we work together; this is how we will transform our lives at work and in the world.