Women in the Workplace Series: Part III

This three-part series will provide an in-depth look at the results of the 2023 “Women in the Workplace Community Survey” provided by REACH Women’s Network, exploring the importance of its findings and recognizing the opportunities and change women hope to see in our local workforce. REACH is an acronym for Recognize, Encourage, Advance, Connect Her. The nonprofit’s mission is to close the gender gap by raising the collective voice and influence of women in the workplace.

This past April, REACH conducted its first comprehensive study of its kind conducted in Forsyth County, with its survey designed to measure how working women in the community feel about issues such as workplace flexibility and benefits, company culture, job satisfaction, career advancement, work/life integration, and more. With 687 working women in Forsyth County participating, the results provided an up close understanding of what women in our community experience as well as have their eyes on when it comes to the future of their careers. 

In this third part of the series, we’re exploring what a positive workplace culture means to our local women and what they want and need to see more of to create a positive environment to thrive.

Looking at the survey results it is evident that workplace culture is top of mind for women, as it should be. There have been intentional improvements over the last decade prioritizing employee physical and mental health, increasing benefits, adding amenities, career advancement opportunities and practicing intentional and equitable practices. Approximately 95% of REACH participants identified themselves as professional women, and believe our community deserves to work in careers where they feel supported by the culture in their company. 

Survey Results: A Look at Workplace Culture for Forsyth Women

  • 50% said that they were satisfied with their current wage/salary, while 35% were dissatisfied 
  • More than half were satisfied with their employers’ commitment to gender equity, racial equity, and age/generational inclusion (dissatisfaction rated 12-16%)
  • 39% said they were satisfied with their employers’ “handling of workplace complaints (discrimination, harassment)”, while 21% were dissatisfied
  • 82% said they felt their opinion was sought out by work colleagues, with 71% saying they felt it was sought by their supervisor 
  • When asked to rate the importance of various factors that would influence them to leave their jobs, “workplace culture” was rated as highly as “higher salary/pay” (90% and 89%, respectively).

Opportunities for Employer Support & Change

When surveyed, most women identified as satisfied and had positive things to say about their employers’ flexible options for work hours and time, as well as location options and their roles and positions within their given organization. Given the demand on the modern family with the majority of households having two working parents, as well as the national mental health crisis, companies are making incredible strides offering new levels of flexibility. Employers can improve overall messaging and culture throughout different industries to help women feel confident that taking advantage of flexible work opportunities will not negatively impact their careers. This is especially true in more male dominated companies and departments.
Another area of workplace culture that can continue to be intentionally improved is removing the stigma of reporting or complaining about something uncomfortable at work.  Female employees are often hesitant to address issues, worrying about trust in handling complaints. Women may fear retaliation, lack of confidentiality, or unfair reactions when reporting problems.

We continue the work for what’s right. 

This study generated a robust amount of data that will continue to be used to help share Forsyth County women’s stories, needs and desires in the workplace, thereby supporting the changes that desperately need to be made. Carol Reeve of REACH and president of Girl on the Roof, shared “We will continue to explore some of the most prominent themes by disaggregating factors including age, income level, race and ethnicity, and size of employer. Our plan is to give employers actionable strategies for supporting women in the workplace. If funding is available, we would like to repeat this survey every two to three years so we can measure our progress and position Winston-Salem as a place where working women thrive.”

If you are interested in learning more about the 2023 survey or receiving additional

information you can sign up for updates through the REACH website, reachwomensnetwork.org/survey.


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