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Catalyst Europe AG Symposium Tackles Interplay of Region, Gender, and Rank in Determining Best Workplace Fit for Corporate Talent

Global research shows men and women share almost identical workplace values; region and rank offer biggest challenges for European business

To retain top talent, European corporate managers need to pay attention to leaders’ values and reduce the workplace inequities that create a poor fit between what top talent wants and what they get in the workplace, says a new research report discussed today at the first Catalyst Europe AG Regional Symposium in Rüschlikon, Switzerland.

The symposium, which brought together more than 70 European business leaders, explored how corporate Europe can optimize its top talent by dispelling commonly held assumptions and developing strategies that aim to bridge workplace values and realities. The Leaders in a Global Economy, Finding the Fit for Top Talent research by Catalyst and Families and Work Institute studied more than 8,000 senior and pipeline leaders in five regions globally and provided the foundation for symposium discussions about on-the-ground applications and implications for European business.

At the symposium, participants considered several questions addressed by the study: Do women and men in corporate Europe hold the same workplace values? Are there pronounced regional differences in what top European talent values in the workplace—and what they find? And which segment of leadership is most at risk of leaving their jobs? According to the research:

  • In all five regions studied, better alignment between values and job/workplace realities is associated with higher levels of employee engagement and retention.
  • Women and men leaders hold almost identical work values, yet the study shows the workplace fit between values and reality often falls short for women.
  • There are more regional differences than gender, rank or age differences.
    • Leaders in Germanic Europe report having more challenging jobs and more supportive workplaces (a match with values) than leaders in Anglo Europe and Asia.
    • Leaders in Germanic Europe are more likely than leaders in Latin Europe to have as good a fit as they desire between life on and off the job.
    • Leaders in Anglo Europe report having companies with higher values and a better fit between life on and off the job than leaders in Latin Europe.
    • Leaders in Anglo Europe are more likely than leaders in Germanic Europe to have work environments as supportive as they want.
  • Men leaders and senior leaders benefit from a better match between values and jobs/workplaces (leaving women and pipeline leaders at a greater risk of leaving).
  • But when the reality of pipeline leaders’ jobs match their values, they are just as likely to stay with their employers as senior leaders – and that applies equally to women and men. When the difference between workplace values/realities for women and men are statistically controlled, the retention is the same for women and men, senior and pipeline leaders.

“In presenting research from the policymaker’s point-of-view, this Catalyst symposium provides a platform for innovative thinking and helps business leaders align practice with research-based theory,” said Eleanor Tabi Haller-Jorden, General Manager, Catalyst Europe AG. “In Europe, women are the fastest growing segment of skilled and educated talent. While there’s a need for an overall global talent management strategy, this research suggests that strategies need to be customized to work best.”

At the symposium participants pointed to a challenging economic landscape and critical talent demands for Europe-based corporations.

“Once common assumptions are debunked, European leaders will be positioned to develop more effective and competitive talent strategies, said Nancy Carter, Ph.D., Vice President, Research, Catalyst, and co-author of the study. “As we continue to explore these topics in our research, we hope to provide additional insights for European and global corporate managers that will help them develop and retain top talent, become more inclusive, and align workplace realities with workplace values.”

The launch of Catalyst Europe AG Regional Symposia marks the first in its series of specialized forums linking key findings from new Catalyst research with shared expertise from European business experts and leaders. Devoted to themes of high interest, and sharpened by Catalyst’s global perspective and regional reach, the symposia series offers timely perspectives that will enable policymaking participants to move theory into practice and build competitive advantage. Future regional symposia will be held in London, Paris, and Brussels.

The Catalyst Europe AG regional symposium, Optimizing Leadership Decisions in Talent Management, was sponsored by The Swiss Reinsurance Company and held at its Centre for Global Dialogue in Rüschlikon, Switzerland. 

For more information, please contact: Susan Nierenberg at [email protected], (USA) 646-388-7744, or Eleanor Tabi Haller-Jorden at [email protected], +41-(0)44-208-3152. For more information about Catalyst, please see

Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership organization working globally with businesses and the professions to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women and business. With offices in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and more than 400 preeminent corporations as members, Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. Catalyst annually honors exemplary organizational initiatives that promote women’s advancement with the Catalyst Award.