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Closing the Trust Gap Is Crucial to Employee Engagement


Much has been written in recent years about closing the gender pay gap. However, there is another gap that exists in workplaces across the United States: the trust gap.

Mercer research indicates that 47% of female employees perceive favoritism at work when it comes to the distribution of promotions and work assignments. 33% of female employees do not feel they can express their ideas or views without fear of negative consequences. And 26% do not believe they can report an ethical concern without fear of retaliation.

Those three items were among the only ones in the survey that showed significant differences between men and women,” said Megan Connolly, principal and senior consultant at Mercer. “The thread that brings them altogether is this fundamental difference in trust.”

Connolly points that such perceptions have women asking such questions as whether it is safe to:

  • Share ideas
  • Speak up about ethical concerns
  • Raise concerns about workplace favoritism.

Fortunately, there are some practical ways this gap can be closed, Connolly said. Because pay and trust work in concert, employers can help repair the broken test by making sure that pay, rewards, promotions and career development are allocated fairly between genders. It involves “taking a look at the way that women versus men are advancing in the organization and making sure that representation in leadership across the organization is equitable,” Connolly said. “Create an environment where all employees feel a safe place to share their ideas and their points of view. “This comes from encouraging candid discussion within the team and the leader making sure that kind of candid discussion is reinforced.”

The heart of Mercer’s research is aimed toward better employee engagement, realizing that trust is an integral part of building a better organization where employees, women in particular, are more engaged, Connolly asserted. 

“Without trust, it’s very difficult to build all of the wonderful things that we’re trying to build in an active talent base,” Connolly said. “We spend so much money recruiting talent and organizations want to make sure that they’re getting the best out of their investment. We want to make sure that the fundamental bedrock of an employee’s experience is met. And trust really is fundamental to that.”

About the Author

Brett Christie is a staff writer at WorldatWork.

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