Charting Change in the Talent Pool
If we accept that a talented workforce is requisite to success, then it’s an issue that companies need to explore and understand better if they are to attract high calibre employees, as well as retain them.
The first step is to understand that the workforce is undergoing a revolution. Generation Y – people born in the 1980s and 1990s – will account for 15% of the European population and 40% of the workforce in France by 2015 (1). This younger generation has very different aspirations to their older counterparts. Generation Y employees are more open, more flexible, more creative and more respectful of gender equality. They are not afraid to challenge today’s company. Not in order to destroy it, but rather to fully participate in the company’s development and find their rightful place within it.
They demand balance, which includes building a life outside of work and living life to the full; objectives that take precedence over financial independence and professional success, which were important to their parents’ generation.
It’s not difficult to see why this type of thinking will remain a challenge for companies. Particularly those companies that value total dedication to the job as a route to career progression, often at the expense of family and social life. Older, male executives, many of whom currently occupy high-level management positions, saw such sacrifices as necessary and find it difficult to accept that it is possible to have a better work/life balance and succeed professionally, despite the fact that Generation Y is proving it can be done.
This problem of gaining a better work/life balance is an issue that women in the workforce have always had to face. Despite it now accepted that the participation of women in the labour market represents the economic development of the future, the professional sphere is still seen as a place where discrimination and outdated values continue to exist for many women.
And while there are signs of improvement, many of those interviewed in a recent survey on the thoughts of three generations of women (3) feel that progress has not gone far enough, notably in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Today there is an expectation that partners should be more supportive and involved and companies have a critical role to play in promoting a better work/life balance.
Certainly, whether it’s down to the fact that there are more women in the workplace, a change of attitude on gender issues appears to be in progress. In a survey on men’s thoughts on gender (2), the majority of the men interviewed prefer working in a team comprised of both men and women because it created higher performance due to the mix of innovative vision, a better ambiance, more room for emotion, and more listening.
For companies looking at ways to manage this revolution in the workplace, the challenge is to take onboard the demands of Generation Y along with a more sympathetic approach to gender and diversity so that corporate structures are adapted in a way that reflects the changing needs of the workforce. Those companies that succeed in doing so will have access to a much larger and more talented pool of candidates.
How we play our part
Mazars conducts regular surveys on age, gender and diversity. We believe that gaining a better understanding of the issues will help companies gradually move towards structures that are more appropriate for the modern workforce and ultimately create a better environment to work in for all. Below is a snapshot of recent surveys:
- The Y Revolution? An international survey on Generation Y – Their aspirations and relationships with gender equality and business. A survey by Mazars in conjunction with WoMen’Up, an association that works on diversity in business in France and provides support to young women and men under the age of 30. 1,011 young people from 5 continents representing 64 different nationalities participated in the study.
- What do Men Think? A survey of men from 60 different countries giving their points of view on evolving male/female relations. Mazars conducted the survey in conjunction with WoMen’Up, an association that works on diversity in business in France and provides support to young women and men under the age of 30.
- Welcome to the Women’s Planet: A survey of 2,382 women, 3 generations of women in 108 countries on the evolution of gender equality across the globe. Mazars conducted the survey in conjunction with The French National Committee for UN Women, which is an independent French association that supports women’s rights and gender equality.
Further reading on this topic:
Creating a Think Tank Environment for Gender Equality
What Does Diversity Mean to You?
Gender Equality on a Collision Course
Muriel de Saint Sauveur. Global Diversity Director. Mazars Group