How To Retain Senior And Executive Female Talent

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How To Retain Senior And Executive Female Talent

The Working Women in SA Report 2024 research study, the largest in SA with nearly 2000 respondents, finds that as women progress in seniority and responsibility, their desire for flexible working methods increases. 

The data revealed that eighty percent of executive women expressed a preference for a reduced work week, part-time hours, or a combination of the two, with only twenty percent seeking full-time hours. 

The more junior the level, the more women desire full-time work versus the desire for more flexible work weeks and hours as seniority increases. 

This key insight is a valuable retention strategy for businesses seeking to retain senior and executive female talent. 




Offering flexibility is good for senior female employee wellbeing


"There is mounting evidence to suggest that business owners should not underestimate the importance of flexible work arrangements in retaining and promoting women, particularly those in senior leadership roles." - Karen Lowe, Director of 4-Day Workweek SA.

Working women in senior or executive positions juggle demanding professional and personal responsibilities, and the appeal of a reduced workweek and or reduced working hours lies in its potential to offer them the flexibility needed to excel in both domains. Often, the intense demands of work and life can create a barrier to their continued participation in the workforce, leading to a loss of valuable experience and leadership, as well as role models in the organisation. 

The report highlights that offering flexible work arrangements is a strategic investment in retaining senior female talent. Companies can unlock their full potential and retain female talent by enabling senior and executive-level managers to manage their time effectively. Studies have shown that flexibility assists in enabling women to reach leadership positions as well as reduces burnout and increases well-being. 


Build a robust senior female talent pipeline


Investing in retaining female talent through flexible work options sends a powerful message to existing and potential employees that a company cares about gender diversity and employee well-being. Companies that foster flexible work cultures are perceived as progressive and attractive to a broader talent pool of executive-level talent, including experienced women seeking to re-enter the workforce after a career break

A well-thought-out flexible work policy not only supports diversity but also ensures a robust talent pipeline, securing a steady stream of experienced and highly skilled women ready to step into senior roles. 

The benefits of offering flexibility in a form that meets the needs of the company and employees are undeniable: diverse leadership teams bring fresh perspectives and enhance decision-making. A company with a robust pipeline of senior female talent not only positions itself for long-term success but also fosters a culture of innovation and inclusivity.

The report found that most women of all ages prefer hybrid working, which is a further flexibility option companies can offer employees. 

Read: Mastering The Hybrid Work Model: Everything Employers Need To Know


The takeaway: offering flexibility to senior female talent is a win-win


Integrating flexible work arrangements is a key factor when looking to retain female talent at senior and executive levels. Consider offering hybrid working, reduced hours or a shortened work week to enhance senior and executive staff retention strategies. This approach aligns with skilled women's evolving needs and preferences in the South African and global workforce.

By embracing flexible work arrangements, companies can retain executive and senior female employees better while sending a clear message that the company values diversity and inclusion. This, in turn, strengthens the female talent pipeline and paves the way for a future where senior working women are not just present but thriving at the top.

Read: Mastering The Art Of Flexibility: Navigating Career Progression For Women

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