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Working women:Accenture survey highlights their concerns

A global study conducted by   IT services leader, Accenture, on the eve of International Women’s Day, has highlightes key issues affecting working women.

The study polled  3,400 business executives from medium to large organizations across 29 countries, including 100 from India. There was an equal representation of men and women across various generations i.e. Baby Boomers (born before 1964); Generation X (Born between 1965-1978); Generation Y (born after 1979).

The research showed that fewer than half of female business professionals – and a similar percentage of their male counterparts (43 percent of women, 42 percent of men) – are satisfied with their current jobs
According to those surveyed in India, 38% are satisfied and not looking for new job opportunities and a close 37% are looking for job opportunities outside the company. Germany ranked highest with 64% satisfied with their current job. Also countries like China (40%); Brazil (41%); US (47%) and UK (38%) of those surveyed were satisfied with their current jobs and not looking out for new opportunities

Survey respondents attribute their lack of satisfaction to a variety of issues, ranging from beingunderpaid and a lack of opportunity for growth to a lack of opportunity for career advancementand feeling trapped

Not satisfied with current job situation: In India, 50% stated the reason that there was no opportunity for growth within their position while another 39% stated they feel like they are being underpaid. Interestingly Japan scored the highest (70%), for feeling underpaid. China (55%) ; US (46%) and UK (44%) also scored high in feeling underpaid for their work. Also, India (50%) and China (47%) rank high in no opportunity for growth in their position.

Most important factors: In India and China 32% of the respondents stated ‘Moving up/climbing up the corporate ladder’ was the most important factor in their career right now. 29% in India and 32% in China stated that ‘Interesting work’ was an important factor. However respondents in the more developed countries like US (30%) and UK (34%) stated work-life balance as an important factor for their careers

Barriers to career advancement: 43% of the respondents from India and China stated lack of management support as a reason for encountering barriers in their career advancement and a close 41% in India and China stated ‘Additional training /education as a need for advancement. In countries like US (27%) and UK (32%), respondents felt an unclear or no career path were barriers to their careers.

Pay raise: In India, 57% have stated ‘Yes’ they have negotiated for a pay raise. In Japan, the highest number of respondents (77%) said they have never asked or negotiated for a pay raise.42% stated they received a raise and it was as expected whereas 28% stated that they received a raise and it was less than expected. 38% of the respondents from Chine and the US said they had received a raise on expected levels.

Asking for promotions: In India, 51% have stated that they have not asked for a promotion. However the maximum number of respondents in Japan (85%) said they never asked for a promotion. The trend is similar in other countries as well, where more often than not, the respondents have not asked for promotions- US (65%); UK(74%) and China (66%). 27% said they received a new role and it was expected when they asked for a promotion and 24% stated they did not receive a new role but received additional responsibilities. However in China (38%) said that they received a new role, but it was not the role expected.

Despite expressing dissatisfaction, nearly three-quarters (70 percent of women and 69 percent of men) plan to stay with their companies. In India, 66% stated that new, challenging assignmentswould be a key factor in pursuing advancement and 58% stated better compensation. However, countries like Brazil (85%); China (71%); US ( 67%) and UK (53%) ranked ‘Better compensation’ as their key factor in pursuing advancement.
73% stated that developing knowledge/ skill set would be one of the top career priorities for the year; 63% stated ‘Career planning’ and 46% stated ‘Flexible working arrangement’. Interestingly, most countries ranked developing knowledge and skill sets as a top career priority- China (54%); Japan (78%); UK (64%); US (52%)

Satisfaction with level reached in career: In India, 55% stated that they were satisfied with the level reached in their careers today. Switzerland ranked the highest with 78% satisfied with the level reached in their careers. More than half of respondents from China (50%); US (58%) and UK (58%) were satisfied with their career levels.
Desired level in organization: In India, 29% stated they would like to ultimately reach the Senior Management level and a close 28% stated Director level. Whereas in Brazil (44%) aspired to reach the Director level in their organization.
Moving companies to reach desired level: 55% from India and 45% from China said they did or will need to move to a new organization to reach their desired levels. However, in countries like the US (41%) and UK (33%) did not feel the need to move organizations in order to reach the desired level in their career

Conclusions: Top changes employers need to make to impact careers: In India, 72% of those surveyed wanted improved pay while 63% wanted improved benefits as top changes employers could make that would provide the greatest opportunities and impact on their careers. 54% and 55% of the respondents wanted flexible working arrangements and a clear succession plan respectively.
In the past 12 months, steps taken toward a career change: In India, 35% took the step ofchanging industries or roles whereas 24% stated took a sabbatical; 38% did not make any of changes to their careers.

A full report on the research, “Reinvent Opportunity: Looking Through a New Lens,” is available at . Accenture’s special  microsite for women and their concerns:  

March 8 2011