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    Happy Women, Happy Workplaces

    Everyone benefits from a female-friendly environment.

    By Joan Toth, Network of Executive Women (NEW)

    I have a friend in the petroleum marketing industry with this mantra: "When momma’s happy, everybody's happy."

    Translation: When his spouse is happy, things get done. Life's challenges are tackled with better results. Relationships grow stronger and everyone in the family has a safe and supportive place to grow, achieve and be the best they can be.

    It's not a stretch to say, "When women are happy, everybody's happy in your workplace, too."

    Women and today's millennials, in particular, want the same things at work. Both want to make a difference and feel valued. Both groups want greater work/life balance. Both groups are more productive in an inclusive, collaborative workplace. 

    Yes, women want equal pay for equal work. That's a given. But attracting and keeping talented women and millennials takes more than money. A 2013 poll of 5,300 professional women by LinkedIn found that women prioritize "flexible working arrangements" over "good remuneration/pay" as the most important factor when evaluating a job. They're still concerned about the lack of investment in their personal development and lack of a clear career path, but they define "success" as achieving professional and personal balance.

    Research shows that millennials — male and female — have the same priorities and aspirations as working women. Today’s talent — tomorrow’s leadership — vote with their feet. When a company doesn’t match their values or accommodate their needs for flexibility and their desire for meaning, millennials will look for other options, like starting their own companies, according to a Bentley University study of 1,000 college-educated men and women born since 1980.

    A Workplace With No Limits

    Consider your company's policies and workplace culture. Are they family-friendly? Are they female-friendly?

    If your organization is undervaluing and underusing high-potential female employees, it's driving away millennial talent. Because, as Bentley University found, millennials like women are family-oriented, want a life beyond work and seek a workplace where they can be authentic.

    The most successful convenience store operators are making progress in cultivating cultures that appeal to women and millennials — or to quote the Network of Executive Women (NEW) vision statement, "a workplace with no limits."

    But there is much more work to be done. Like their older female peers, millennial women see themselves as having the experience, skills and desire to advance to leadership positions. Six in 10 of those polled by Bentley University consider themselves "ambitious" (virtually the same share as men). 

    But more male millennials than female millennials say their hard work is recognized by promotions, opportunities and compensation. And more women than men say their work is praised, but not rewarded.

    The study offers practical advice for creating a culture that attracts and retains millennials. These are the same changes NEW champions:

    • Let employees know their work matters.
    • Provide flexible work arrangements for men and women to spend more time with their families.
    • Offer parental leave to both parents in a positive and supportive manner.
    • Take an interest in the individual’s career aspirations by hiring, and supporting and sponsoring for career success.
    • Create a "work family" that engenders loyalty to the company.
    • Create multiple paths and flexible timeframes for individuals to reach leadership positions.

    When the c-store industry creates a workplace culture that attracts and advances high-potential women, it creates a culture that attracts and keeps the best talent — of both genders, of all ages. When you solve for women, you solve for all.

    Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

    The Network of Executive Women (NEW) is a presentation sponsor for the 2015 Convenience Store News Top Women in Convenience awards, being presented during the 2015 NACS Show in Las Vegas.

    By Joan Toth, Network of Executive Women (NEW)
    • About Joan Toth Joan Toth is president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women, Retail and Consumer Goods, a learning and leadership community representing 10,000 members, 750 companies, 100 corporate partners and 20 regional groups in the United States and Canada.

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