Against a backdrop of economic volatility, the vast majority of young professional women believe they will have rewarding careers balanced with fulfilling personal lives, according to research just released by Accenture. The research also generated the Accenture Millennial Women Workplace Success Index, which identified two primary qualities as key to workplace success – the ability to balance personal and professional lives and a job where they can make a difference.
Ultimately, more than half of the respondents define success as doing meaningful work, while maintaining balance between their personal and professional lives (cited by 66 percent and 59 percent, respectively).
Other factors of workplace success include stable employment that provides financial security, a positive work environment, open and honest communication with supervisors and opportunities to grow professionally.
Almost all of the respondents – 94 percent – believe they can achieve a balance between a satisfying professional life and a gratifying personal life. Similarly, when asked to list typical qualities of a successful female business leader, seven in 10 (70 percent) cited “maintains work/life balance,” followed by “is flexible” and “is able to make an impact” (reported by 66 percent and 64 percent, respectively). At the same time, almost six in ten (59 percent) report being at least somewhat negatively affected by the current economic downturn, and one-third (33 percent) are more concerned with keeping their jobs than achieving work/life balance.
For these respondents, quality of life is often more important than their career growth. Seven in ten (70 percent) reported that they believe they will be successful, and fully one-third of these young female professionals said they believe they will reach the top of their professions. However, they cited medical benefits and flexible hours (reported by 63 percent and 50 percent, respectively) as drivers of professional success, compared to classes and training for professional advancement (37 percent). Similarly, when asked about what is important to them, 66 percent cited family life, compared to 29 percent who cited career success.
Perhaps fueling confidence in their future, respondents reported that barriers to professional success are changing. When asked to rank barriers to their careers, just 12 percent cited marriage, and 19 percent mentioned maternity policies, compared to 30 percent who cited pay scale for women. Respondents also reported that women are increasingly joining the ranks of senior executives. Fewer than one in ten (seven percent) reported that fewer women are being appointed to C-suite positions and boards of directors than five years ago.
Yet gender barriers have not disappeared completely. According to respondents, ongoing gender obstacles include a corporate culture that favors men, general stereotypes/ preconceptions and sexism (reported by 28 percent, 26 percent and 22 percent, respectively).