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When it comes to creating a safe and respectful workplace, women have the upper hand, a Pew Research Center survey found.
According to the survey, 89% of adults say it is essential for today’s business leaders to create a safe and respectful workplace. This ranks at the top of a list of qualities and behaviours the public views as essential for corporate leadership, along with being honest and ethical and providing fair pay and good benefits.
In that aspect, women business leaders were found by most Americans to be better than their male counterparts.
More than two in five (43%) said female executives are better at creating safe and respectful workplaces, while only 5% say men are better. About half (52%) say male and female leaders are equally capable.
By gender, it doesn’t come as a surprise that women are more likely than men to say female business leaders have an advantage over male leaders when it comes to creating safe workplaces (48% vs. 37%).
A majority of men (56%) and 48% of women said there isn’t any difference while very few women (4%) or men (6%) say male leaders do a better job creating such work environments.
By educational attainment, 64% of women with a bachelor’s degree or more education found that female business leaders do a better job creating safe and respectful workplaces, compared to 47% of men with at least a bachelor’s degree, 41% of women without a college degree and 33% of men without a college degree.
Women are also seen by more than 20% as having an advantage over men in other qualities and behaviours relating to workplace culture. This includes ‘valuing people from different backgrounds’, ‘considering the impact of business decisions on society’, ‘mentoring young employees’, and ‘providing fair pay and good benefits’.
The majority, however, found no difference on these qualities between the genders.
The two aspects where men were seen as relatively stronger were ‘being willing to take risks’ (41%) and ‘negotiating profitable deals’ (28%). That said, the majority still did not see a capability difference between genders.
The research also noted that women are vastly underrepresented in top business positions, both at the CEO level and immediately below it – currently, 4.8% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women.
It added that many Americans saw a link between sexual harassment in the workplace and the lack of women in top leadership positions in business.
Roughly four-in-ten adults (42%) said a major reason why there aren’t more women in top positions is that sexual harassment creates an environment that makes it harder for women to succeed in business. Half of women say this is a major factor, compared with a third of men.
An earlier Pew Research Center survey found that roughly half (47%) of employed adults say sexual harassment is a problem in their industry, and about a third (35%) say this is a problem in their own workplace.
Among those who saw sexual harassment as a major road block for aspiring female leaders, 61% say women in business do a better job than men of creating safe and respectful workplaces. Whereas those who did not see sexual harassment as a major obstacle for women, significantly fewer (37%) said women do a better job creating a positive work environment. This relationship held up among women and men alike.
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