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Women are experiencing less burnout and fewer non-inclusive behaviors in the workplace, but many feel they aren’t getting enough support from their employer, according to Deloitte’s third annual Women @ Work report.

Based on a survey of 5,000 women across 10 countries, the 2023 report shows that while some things have improved for women in the workplace, to fully thrive, women need greater flexibility in when and where they work, as well as an employer they can trust to take action on gender equality issues.

Mental health has improved somewhat, but challenges remain

While there have been improvements in women’s mental health in some areas — 28% of women say they feel burned out, down from 46% last year, and more women rate their mental well-being as “good” or “extremely good” (43%, up from 39%) — there remains a need for more support. 

Significantly fewer women feel comfortable talking about mental health in the workplace this year (25%, down from 43% in 2022), and fewer are comfortable citing mental health challenges as their reason for taking time off (25%, down from 39%). Ethnic minority groups are even less likely to feel comfortable talking about mental health challenges, and they’re more likely to feel burned out than ethnic majority groups.

Flexible work boosts retention, loyalty, and productivity

Flexibility is a key factor in whether women stay at their current jobs or move on. Three in 10 say a lack of flexibility around when they work is the top reason for wanting to leave their current job, and 14% cited this lack of flexibility as their reason for leaving a former job. 

Deloitte found that women with high flexibility tend to stay with their employer longer— 28% said they intend to stay for more than five years, compared to just 4% of women with no flexibility. Women who have high flexibility are also more likely to say their productivity at work is “good” or “very good” than women who have no flexibility (86% compared to 70%), and they’re more likely to be loyal to their employer (86% compared to 69%). 

However, most women are concerned about the impact of flexible working on their careers — 97% believe it affects their chances of getting a promotion, and 95% believe it’s unlikely their workload would be adjusted if they request flexible work. 

Hybrid work falls short of expectations

While more than half of women currently work on-site, only 5% prefer this arrangement. Nearly three-quarters (74%) would prefer hybrid work, and 21% would like a fully remote role. 

Women who work in hybrid or remote arrangements have seen some improvements from last year — just 30% report not having enough exposure to leaders, down from 45% in 2022, and those who experience exclusion from meetings, decisions, and informal interactions dropped from 58% to 37%. 

Hybrid work still presents some challenges, however, with many women reporting that they’re expected to go into the workplace even though messaging suggests otherwise (33%), and they lack flexibility (31%) and predictability (32%) in their working pattern. These percentages have more than doubled since last year.

Women more likely to call out microaggressions

Overall, women have experienced fewer workplace microaggressions or harassment over the last year (44%, down from 59% in 2022). However, women in minority groups (53%) and LGBT+ women (76%) were far more likely to experience these behaviors. 

The most common non-inclusive behaviors women experienced in the past 12 months included being interrupted or talked over during meetings (22%), having fewer opportunities than male colleagues to speak up during meetings (20%), and being excluded from informal interactions and conversations (17%). 

While more women formally reported experiencing microaggressions to their employers in 2023 (44%, up from 23% in 2022), fewer reported harassment incidents (59%, down from 66%). For those who didn’t make reports, 44% didn’t feel the behavior was serious enough, 12% worried it would worsen the behavior, and 11% expressed concerns that their complaint wouldn’t be kept confidential or taken seriously. 

Most organizations aren’t doing enough to promote gender equality

More than nine in 10 women (92%) don’t think their employers are taking concrete steps toward gender equality, and almost half (48%) report no increase in their employer’s support for women.

Deloitte recommends that organizations learn from “Gender Equality Leaders” — women who work for these organizations feel comfortable reporting non-inclusive behaviors, feel supported in balancing their work responsibilities, and believe their career is progressing as quickly as they want it to. Survey results show that women who work at these Leader organizations feel more connected to and loyal to their employer; are more engaged, productive, and motivated; and have better job satisfaction. However, the 2023 report found that only 5% of surveyed women work for Gender Equality Leaders.

According to Deloitte, becoming a Gender Equality Leader starts with three primary enablers — an inclusive and respectful culture, an enabling approach to work/life balance, and development and advancement opportunities for women. 

For a more in-depth look at what’s changed, or hasn’t changed, for women in the workplace, see Deloitte’s full report