Almost all of the Millennials taking part in a recent survey say they expect to see equal opportunities for women in the workplace but they also believe it won’t be soon.

 

Indeed, 97 percent of the Millennials (born between 1980 and 1995) responding to the survey said they believe they’ll be the generation to finally achieve equal opportunities for women in the workplace, according to a report from ManpowerGroup. However, they also are realistic about when it will happen, and estimate such changes will take another 21 years. The most optimistic respondents were established male leaders, who estimate the playing field will be level in the next 14 years, despite the fact they hold the power and influence at a time when progress is stalling, the report explains.

 

The report, “Seven Steps to Conscious Inclusion: A Practical Guide to Accelerating More Women into Leadership,” is based on survey responses from more than 200 global leaders. It evaluates generational, gender and geographical attitudes to achieving gender parity.

 

The most significant identified obstacle is an entrenched male culture, which even male respondents acknowledged must change. Interestingly, 59 percent of leaders interviewed said they believe the single most powerful thing an organization can do to promote more women leaders is to create a gender-neutral culture, led by the CEO. What’s more, 42 percent of the respondents believe that flexible working is key to getting more women into leadership.

 

“It’s proven that the problem will not correct itself—we are stuck in a circular conversation,” says Mara Swan, ManpowerGroup’s executive vice president, Global Strategy and Talent, and co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Gender Parity. “Increasing representation by putting more women in support roles like Communications and HR is just not good enough anymore. That is not shifting the needle. Getting more women into P&L roles will significantly help accelerate the talent and leadership pipeline.”

 

The ManpowerGroup report reminds me of a similar report earlier this year, from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), based on its survey of Millennial women. The firm surveyed 8,756 female Millennials from 75 countries concerning their views of work and their career. According to a report, “The Female Millennial—A new era of talent,” based on the survey’s findings, female Millennials are much more likely to believe they can reach the very top levels with their current employer, particularly those women starting their careers (49 percent of the respondents).

 

Several other results from the survey are noteworthy. For instance, the respondents are more confident about their careers and more ambitious than previous generations, according to the report authors. Indeed, 53 percent of the respondents say opportunities for career progression is the most attractive employer trait.

 

Perhaps more importantly, 43 percent of the respondents said they believe employers are too male biased when it comes to promoting employees from within—and that percentage is up 14 percent since 2011. Additionally, 71 percent of the survey respondents believe opportunities aren’t equal for all employees.

 

“Our research shows that when it comes to the female Millennial, we really are talking about a new era of female talent,” says Dennis Nally, chairman of PwC International. “Female Millennials are more highly educated and are entering the workforce in larger numbers than any of their previous generations. But, this is not the only thing that has changed. They also enter the workforce with a different career mindset.”

 

I’d like to know what you think of these surveys. Do you believe the Millennial generation will see gender parity? Also, do you believe the single most important step an organization can make to promote more women leaders is to create a gender-neutral culture, led by the CEO?