An ‘entitlement gap’ between men and women in the UAE – a feeling of not being as deserving as men when it comes to pay rises, promotions and career progression – remains a hurdle in workplaces, reveals the new research commissioned by LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network.
The entitlement gap was first proposed by The Female Lead’s recent Women at Work report1. The Female Lead is a UK-based educational charity dedicated to finding the factors that limit women's choices and fulfilment and amplifies their voices.
The LinkedIn research not only supports the findings of the Women at Work report but shows the way women have been socially conditioned to feel less entitled than men. In the UAE both women (65%) and men (63%) surveyed almost equally agree that there are certain scenarios within the workplace where women feel less entitled than men. The gap is felt greater in professions such as media, communications and marketing (77%), while the perception of women feeling less entitled than men is higher among directors (70%) compared to manual skilled workers (54%).
LinkedIn surveyed over 2,000 working professionals aged 25-55 in the UAE. Following a surge in discussions on LinkedIn around the impact of Covid-19 on working women, the study aims to shine a light on the issue and open up conversations that help and empower women in the lead up to International Women’s Day.
The research looked at the impact on pay, career progression and the ‘penalty’ of flexible working, as well as the impact of Covid-19 on the careers of working women.
Pay and Promotions
The results show the ‘entitlement gap’ was most evident when it came to salary increases and promotions, with men being more determined in pursuing their demands:
Men appear more assertive when asking for a pay rise outside of the annual review (75% men versus 65% women)
Women who felt they deserved a pay rise waited longer to ask their employer for one compared to men
Women were also less demanding than men when negotiating a pay rise with a current employer or with new employer because they don’t feel comfortable, they don’t want to appear pushy, they feel they are asking too much or are just embarrassed
A quarter of women polled (25%) have never negotiated pay when accepting a role with a new employer, compared with just 15% of men surveyed
A quarter (25%) of women surveyed have never negotiated a pay rise with a current employer, while just under a fifth (19%) of men said the same.
The Penalty for Flexible Working
Almost 4 in 5 (78%) of working professionals polled think that family-friendly workplace policies, including flexible working, would be effective. But nearly 3 in 10 (29%) of women surveyed think that there is a penalty for being granted flexible working which could be a lack of career progression or a delay in their career progression.
Over a third (34%) of women surveyed said those granted flexible working are seen as less committed than other employees.
When it comes to a driving force for their ambition, more women (58%) value recognition within the company as compared with men (51%). But generally, a lack of motivation remains a challenge with over 3 in 5 (63%) of women surveyed saying they suffer from inner conflict about being career focused.
Meanwhile, almost three quarters (74%) of working professionals surveyed think a generous maternity package would be effective in their workplace, however, the majority (69%) of women still agree that their career is still a key priority for them in their life, even with flexible working policies in place. Among female parents, 65% agree that having children has an impact on career progression.
Family is another important consideration for women when pursuing a career, with a third of women surveyed (33%) saying they have to take on more of the responsibility of their family/home life compared to their partner.
However, 7 in 10 (70%) of women said they do not feel uncomfortable earning more than their partner.
Impact of Covid-19
The pandemic has impacted everyone’s lives, but more than half (52%) of the working women polled agree that the ‘new normal’ has resulted in them taking on even more responsibilities than their partner at home.
But in a move to address these challenges and issues, many companies in the UAE are implementing counter-measures. Half of the working professionals surveyed said their company has implemented family-friendly workplace policies, including flexible working to support women, while nearly half also said their company has training and targets for managers to ensure that gender-equality policies are properly enforced to support women in the workplace.
Moreover, 40% of working professionals surveyed said their company has coaching, mentoring and training programs to support women in the workplace, while 33% said their company has a generous maternity package.
Lynn Chouman, News Editor at LinkedIn MENA says: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen a surge in conversations on LinkedIn around the impact that Covid-19 has had on working women – whether across the UAE or globally. Women have faced a number of challenges that have in fact compounded already existing issues, like the extra household responsibilities imposed by the new ‘working from home’ reality. The conversations also underlined the difficulty women face when asking for pay increases and promotions, as well as the complexities of earning more than their partners. Flexible working hours sometimes come with the price of a delayed career progression.”
To help people and businesses take steps to improve gender equality in the workplace, LinkedIn is making free online learning courses available to everyone: Leadership Strategies for Women, Planning Your Family Leave and Return, Proven Success Strategies for Women at Work, Own It: The Power of Women at Work, and Becoming a Male Ally at Work (available from February 28 to March 31).
Join the conversation on LinkedIn by @tagging a woman in your community that you’d like to celebrate with the hashtag #WeCanDoIt.