Companies are stepping up their commitment to help their women employees thrive, but many have struggled to put it into practice. A new study has the solution. The Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership announced today survey findings about what women say causes them to thrive at work: It’s not vacations or perks, but making meaningful contributions.

What Thrive Looks Like

In practice, what does thriving look like? A survey of participants from the Simmons Leadership Conference in March 2023, which included women in the age range of under 25 to over 75, defined thriving as making positive contributions, learning, and being valued and recognized. For managers, the study findings reveal the importance of delegating projects that have a significant impact, providing opportunities for formal and informal learning, and taking time to recognize women employees in the way that is most meaningful to them.

Importance to Thrive

How important is it for women to thrive? 96% of respondents said that thriving at work was extremely or very important. Additionally, 42% of respondents reported that they felt like they were thriving most of the time, and 49% felt that they were thriving some of the time. 81% of respondents say that their organization is committed to supporting their ability to thrive at work. Respondents of color are more likely than white respondents to say that thriving at work is extremely important.

Why is thriving at work important to both the employees and the organization? For individuals, thriving at work makes them feel happier, and more confident, engaged, and inspired. According to the respondents, when they feel they are thriving at work, they are more productive, more likely to go “above and beyond,” and more effective. They also report being better positioned to do their best work. “This is a substantial finding. We know that women want to thrive at work and know what they need to do. In addition, we know organizations WANT discretionary effort and high productivity. This is exciting and most importantly – very doable,” said Susan MacKenty Brady, CEO of Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership in a news release.


What gets in the way? Participants identified an overwhelming workload as the number one issue preventing women from thriving in their careers. Respondents sent in feedback saying workload kills morale, depletes resources, and forces too many priorities with constant change.

What is the secret for managers to inspire women to thrive at work? Managers can give women employees a sense of autonomy, making it safe for them to take risks, and provide opportunities to learn and develop. They can prioritize sustainable workloads and the ability to use paid time off.

Individuals can promote their thriving by building strong relationships and seeking out opportunities to learn and develop.

“The Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership knows that when women are thriving, they can help others to thrive as well. We are committed to creating a collaborative environment where women from all backgrounds can do their best work,” MacKenty Brady said.

To view the complete results and discussion of the study, visit this link

About the Research
362 participants from the Simmons Leadership Conference in March of 2023 completed the survey. Participants included women in the age range of under 25 to over 75. To create the definition of thriving, contributing a positive work impact was cited by 41% of participants, learning and development were cited by 28% of participants, and value and recognition were cited by 20% of participants. 

Source: Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership