By Pam McDonald

The following takeaways from our latest interview with Empower Board Member Mary Ann Donaghy describe the continued progress being made to help women in the industry maximize their contributions and achieve their career goals. Here she reviews significant findings from the group’s February opinion survey. To learn more about or to support Empower, contact Mary Ann at [email protected]. Below are takeaways from the interview, which you can listen to here.

Since leaving NIC, I’m doing a couple of things that I’m super excited about, including building a subscription-based consumer research platform. The platform intends to provide operators, investors, and developers with truly actionable data. I’ve heard over and over from the C Suite this has been a problem. Research can have various levels of value depending on how it’s done and how actionable its findings are. So, the goal is to provide actionable data – specifically on boomers. And, I’m also doing project-based marketing research and strategy with a number of different folks.

Survey Results

I’m serving on the board of Empower where our focus is on three pillars: mentorship, education, and awareness, and, we are moving forward. To help us set priorities, we conducted a survey in February, and we had some really interesting results that all shook down to what do women and men think about working in senior living?

We had almost 800 respondents, about 80% were female. Most have 16 years or more of work experience. 70% were directors and above and of that 30% were executive level. That says a lot when we talk about the results here. The vast majority (87%) work exclusively or partially in senior living, but we did get some respondents from outside the industry. So, it gave us a broad view of the workplace experience.

Some Key Findings

One important finding is that many respondents feel we’re not tapping into the unique skills, experiences, and perspectives of our employees. A second key finding is that bullying exists in our companies; it’s alive and in the workplace. A surprising finding is that age bias is considered a bigger factor in holding employees back than gender bias. 34% of women and 26% of men said that age bias is holding them back, whereas 27% of women and 10% of men said that about gender bias. We certainly need to look at age bias as well as gender bias and racial bias.

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Men and Women on Family

Another thing that was really interesting involved a series of questions about the influence of family. Not surprisingly women were far more likely to say that they had taken three months off after the birth of a child, they had taken several years off to take care of children, and they felt at a disadvantage for having children. But I think we need to sort of look under the hood a little bit on this.

Men were actually more likely than women to say that they made a career decision to prioritize family or children. They said no to a big project or a work trip that would require missing an important personal or family event. We could speculate as to why. Some might argue that men feel more stable and secure in their jobs and so they’re more willing to say no. Or say no to a promotion or a move or whatever the case may be. It’s pretty interesting.

Supervisors’ Opinions; Bullying

Going back to the key findings about under-leveraged and under-valued employees, 40% of women felt ignored or overlooked in meetings. Now the percent of men who felt ignored or overlooked in meeting was 17%. Over 50% of men and women felt highly misunderstood or mistreated by a boss or supervisor. Half of men and 66% of women have felt their skills and capabilities were not appreciated or fully leveraged. The point here is that if people feel organizations are not leveraging their unique skills for the good of the company and the industry as a whole, it certainly warrants exploring.

Women were more likely overall to feel that they have been bullied in the workplace. But, both women and men were more likely to say that they’d been bullied by a female coworker than by a male coworker; that’s 44% of women and 24% of men. 33% of women felt bullied by a male coworker, as did 17% of men workers. We need to explore this because it affects productivity and really impacts culture.

Coming soon – Part 2.

These takeaways have been lightly edited for space and style.