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What Women Need Now: 5 Strategies for Women’s Success

For many women, the experience of work is fraught with barriers, challenges and time poverty. Women struggle with finding work, stalled careers, lack of support and unequal pay.

Of course providing equal access to opportunities for women is critical for them, but also for society as a whole. Creating the conditions for women to succeed and thrive is both a social and a moral issue. In addition, because women make up approximately half of the global working-age population, their wellbeing, health and economic achievement affect the global economy as well.

But the climb seems to be uphill for women—according to plenty of new data. But there are meaningful actions that individuals, teams, leaders and organizations can take to create the conditions for women to succeed and thrive.

Definitions of Success

Importantly, women must define success for themselves and there are multiple right answers to how any woman navigates, life, work, family and all the things that deliver fulfillment. Research has demonstrated that there isn’t one best model of work and life for women—for example, working full time, working part-time or not working outside of the home. Instead, the ideal is when women are doing what they prefer.

Women and families tend to achieve the greatest satisfaction and fulfillment with alignment—for example, a woman prefers to work full time and does. Or a woman wants to devote herself to raising children full time and she does, or she works part-time and it’s a great fit for her. These are the most ideal conditions—and as a result, supporting women must begin with what any woman discovers is best for herself and her family—rather than an external norm for achievement.

It's also important to recognize the ebb and flow of needs over life stages. What a woman prioritizes when she’s in her 20’s will be different than when she’s in her 40’s or 60’s. And needs shift across seasons as well. If a woman has children, the way she spends her time or manages her various responsibilities will shift based on when school is in session and whether day-care is open, or it will shift based on the ages or stages of her children.

Creating the Conditions for Women to Thrive

There are several pragmatic routes to support women and cultivate a landscape where women can succeed.

#1 - Hire, Promote and Nurture Women’s Career Growth

Women don’t receive the same opportunities for hiring or promotion. In fact, 18% of women had been asked whether they have children or plan to have children in the recruiting process, according to a study by Applied. And a poll by HiBob found that 22% of women and 35% of men believed women were promoted less frequently than men. In addition, 15% of women and 23% of men believed women receive fewer career advantages compared to men.

Practices for recruiting, selection, hiring, promotion and career growth must provide equal opportunities for women, and these must be systematic in a culture—not left to chance. Sponsorship and mentorship are also important aspects of a system which supports women—both women supporting women and men supporting women as well.

#2 - Value Women’s Career Paths and Skills

The majority of women have children, and the majority of working women have children. The percentage of women who participate in the labor force has fallen as a result of the pandemic, but the greatest proportion of working women are working moms.

This reality can translate into gaps in women’s resumes and job histories—because they’ve stepped back from career growth to focus on family. It can also arise from women who take time off to care for children. In the Applied data, 38% of women who had taken a career break of six months or more said it was because of the need to care for children. This was compared to only 11% of men who had a similar career gap. In addition, 53% of people with career openings believed there was a stigma associated with the gaps, and they preferred not to tell prospective employers.

However, caregiving can be a significant source of personal reward and also skill development—fostering talents which are transferrable to work. Fully 53% of women in the Applied poll believed they had gained new or relevant skills for work, based on their time in caregiving.

A brilliant poll by (In)Credible found women do indeed build valuable skills in the process of providing care. These include empathy (70% reported), stress tolerance (63%), time management (54%), communication skills (63%), advocacy skills (47%), conflict management (42%), motivating others (30%) and leadership (20%).

Organizations can embrace women’s contributions regardless of a resume gap and especially in light of the skills they develop in caregiving.

#3 - Provide Meaningful Work

Many parents are willing to make sacrifices in their jobs for their children—so providing meaningful work is an especially powerful way to support mothers.

In a recent poll by KinderCare and The Harris Poll, people are willing to make tough choices in support of their children and family experience. In particular, they are willing to switch jobs (74%), take on a less demanding role (73%), scale back at work (70%), move to a new city or location (65%), pursue a freelance job (64%), take a job that pays less with more flexibility (62%), take a career break (62%), stay at a job they’re unsatisfied with (59%) or defer a promotion (55%).

Parents are willing to sacrifice the satisfaction and fulfillment they gain from their work—but better if they didn’t have to. Substantive support for mothers—would provide meaningful work which is a good match to people’s current skills as well as their future contribution. Great work would feature clear expectations and purpose, empathetic leadership and respectful cultures. Positive work would also include opportunities for learning and growth. All of these would reduce the need for sacrifice and contribute to better parenting and better work contributions.

#4 - Provide Child Care Benefits and Flexibility

Organizations can also support women by providing benefits which address childcare needs. When people were asked to consider which benefits would influence them to stay with their current employer, 46% of people ranked childcare benefits in the top three and 69% ranked them in the top five benefits—according to the KinderCare/Harris Poll data.

Unfortunately, 61% believed there is a disconnect between employers and childcare support and 50% said piecing together adequate childcare coverage was a significant source of stress. Organizations can provide a variety of benefits which address needs—from pretax benefits and on-demand or emergency/back-up childcare to care provided by the employer, on-site care or subsidized child care.

Another way to support parents, including mothers, is for organizations to provide flexibility in working hours and locations when that is possible. The KinderCare/Harris Poll found 68% of respondents were able to be more involved in their children’s lives when their work schedule was more flexible. And 67% agreed that having more time to spend with their children boosted their parenting confidence. For 60%, having consistent access to high-quality child-care coverage would enable them to be more present for their children.

When people are happier within their work, they experience more joy outside of work. But the opposite is also true: When people are happier outside of work, they perceive more satisfaction within their work and they can provide more energy, focus and discretionary effort. Providing benefits and flexibility is good for moms but also for organizations.

#5 - Pay Women Equally and Fairly

There is still a gender pay gap and growth in women’s earnings has slowed over the last two decades, according to data from the Pew Research Center. In the HiBob data, only 58% of professionals believed women and men were paid equally for the same role within their companies.

In addition, women are worried about finances. In a study by Fidelity, 53% had cut back on non-essential expenses and entertainment in the past year. Women were primarily stressed by inflation (71%), costs of essentials (65%) and not having enough saved for emergencies (58%). Most stressed were Gen Z women—about the cost of education (55%), paying off student loans (44%) and lacking knowledge about how to invest effectively (46%).

Organizations can help by educating employees. In fact, according to the Fidelity data, women are interested in learning about managing debt and credit (27%), how to stick to a budget (25%) and how to save (24%).

But overall, women need to be—must be—paid equally for equal work.

It’s Not Rocket Science

Creating the conditions for women to succeed and thrive is not that hard—and it’s the right thing to do. Supporting women and nurturing their achievement—within their own definition of success—is good for women, families and society, and it’s good for business as well.


This article was written by Tracy Brower from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to

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