What Do (Executive) Women (and Men) Want? Accenture Uncovers Priorities

Martha Bernays Freud-Sigmund Freud

Martha Bernays Freud-Sigmund Freud

Accenture’s online survey of 4,100 business executive women and men born between 1946 and 1994 from medium to large organizations across 33 countries sought to answer the updated version of Sigmund Freud’s question: “What do women want?”

Conducted in November 2012, the survey’s margin of error is +/-2 percent, with at least 100 respondents from each country, except Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden where the combined number totaled 200.

It provides some answers:  Women’s – and men’s top priorities in defining career success are:

  • Work-life balance
  • Money
  • Recognition
  • Autonomy
Frederick Herzberg

Frederick Herzberg

This finding contradicts Frederick Herzberg’s theory that people are less motivated by “hygiene factors” like work-life balance and money than “motivation factors” like recognition and autonomy.

In contrast to Yahoo’s much-publicized ban on working remotely, 80 percent of male and female respondents reported that having flexibility in their work schedule is extremely or very important to work-life balance and more than three-quarters (78 percent) agree technology enables them to be more flexible with their schedules.

This is an important value statement in light of landmark findings that lack of flexibility and control in work environments has been associated with poorer health indicators and status than roles with greater flexibility

Hannah Kuper

Hannah Kuper

Hannah Kuper and Michael Marmot of University College London analyzed health outcomes of British civil service workers in the Whitehall I and II studies and found employees with least control over their work lives, typically associated with lower employment grade and lower social class, consistently had the poorest well-being and the highest mortality rates.

Michael Marmot

Michael Marmot

Marmot with other researchers who analyzed Whitehall study data, including Geoffrey Rose, surmise that not having discretion over how a task is accomplished, underutilizing skills, lack of clarity and predictability in job role can lead to job stress and physical indicators like abnormal heart rate and blood pressure, increased blood cortisol.

Erin Kelly

Erin Kelly

Phyllis Moen

Phyllis Moen

More than half of all respondents said they declined a job due to concerns about its impact on work-life balance, also reported by Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen of University of Minnesota, suggesting that Yahoo’s policy could lead to significant attrition over time.

To realize monetary goals, the majority of respondents – 49 percent of women and 57 percent of men – had asked for or negotiated a pay raise, and four out of five respondents who negotiated a pay raise received one.

These rates represent a substantial increase over the year before in which 44 percent of women and 48 percent of men reported asking for a pay increase.
Notably, the percentage of men requesting more money increased considerably more than the percentage of women in that year period.

Linda Babcock

Linda Babcock

This result is more encouraging than Linda Babcock’s finding that women tend not to ask for raises, and tend not to receive them when they do ask.

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

Even Sheryl Sandberg wasn’t inclined to negotiate for her salary when offered the role as COO of Facebook until she forcefully urged by her husband and brother-in-law, she revealed on 60 Minutes while promoting Lean In.

The Accenture study may demonstrate a changing trend for the better:  Almost half of all respondents reported that they had asked for a promotion, suggesting greater willingness to advocate for themselves to achieve the second priority, monetary reward.

-*How well do Accenture’s findings reflect your career priorities?

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One thought on “What Do (Executive) Women (and Men) Want? Accenture Uncovers Priorities

  1. Pingback: Have You Agreed to Every Bad Deal You’ve Gotten? | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

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