Equal Pay Day and More: What Women Want From Work

From fair pay to female mentors to maternity benefits, here’s what women told us they are seeking in the workplace.

Since the pandemic, women have been rethinking the place of work in their lives, which means companies may have to rethink their methods of recruiting and retaining them. And according to Monster’s worker poll, women put fair pay, career growth and female mentorship at the top of their benefits lists.

Here’s what women are valuing at work, based on our poll data:

Equitable pay

A clear majority (82%) of women choose “fair and equal wages” as the benefit they value most in the workplace, according to Monster’s poll, and only 24% of women believe that men and women are paid the same where they work.

In some states, new pay transparency laws are bringing this issue to the forefront as employers are required to post pay ranges in job advertisements or provide pay ranges to internal employees who request it. Some employers are proactively making the information available to help level the playing field, and conducting pay audits to keep themselves on track.

“One of my clients just worked with a consulting firm to go through all their pay and look at pay equity, and they had to make massive changes,” says MaryBeth Hyland, a workplace-culture consultant and founder of SparkVision. “The majority of people getting the highest pay had to do with how long they were there and not the impact of their work. They had to shift a lot of the old ways of thinking, because there was a huge discrepancy with men versus women and with tenure versus impact.”

Growth opportunities

Two-thirds (63%) of women value “a clear vision for the future of their career,” and 69% of women would consider turning down a job offer if the company lacked career growth opportunities for women. Only 23% of women think all employees at their current company receive the same quality and quantity of opportunities.

This is a good note for companies interviewing new talent – be clear about where women can go at your firm. “You can say, ‘This is how we plan to outline your career growth,’” says Monster career expert Vicki Salemi. “‘Here’s your one-year, two-year, five-year plan.’ So they see there are intentions behind it. That’s what they’re looking for, ultimately.”

Female representation

Nearly a third (31%) of women say they value female mentors in the workplace, and 45% said they’d consider turning down a job offer if the company lacked either female leaders or female employees.

This might feel like a chicken and egg problem — if you need women to attract women, what do you do if you have fewer women? It’s important to have a strategy. If you don’t have many women in leadership positions, for instance, let applicants know what steps you’re taking to address it.

“It’s a matter of being proactive with candidates and saying, ‘Right now we have 10 people in our C-suite and two who are women,” Salemi says. “‘This is how we plan to groom the current management team so women have a seat at the table.”

It’s also important to be able to show that you’re putting time and money into women-oriented talent outcomes. “Where are we showing up?” says Darcy Eikenberg, an executive and leadership coach at Red Cape Revolution. “Are we investing in attending events that specialize in women in STEM? Can we tell a story about spending X amount of dollars on a women’s development program, and what the outcome of that is? If there’s not the investment to begin with, you can’t expect a return.”

Family benefits/flexibility 

A quarter of women said they value maternity leave and/or childcare benefits, and another 11% said they value fertility and/or family planning services. Thirty-seven percent said they’d consider turning down a job offer if the company lacked adequate flexibility for working parents, and another 30% said they might walk for lack of adequate parental leave or childcare benefits.

“There’s so much research showing how many women dropped out of the workplace during the pandemic because of the childcare situation,” Hyland says. “It created an opportunity for many companies to start to understand what it looks like to be flexible.”

In many cases, flexibility and family benefits go hand-in-hand, since offering flexible scheduling, remote work or a four-day work week could enable female employees to better manage the work-life juggle. “Companies will see that if working parents don’t have the flexibility they need, there are other employers that will offer it,” Salemi says.