Forget the Great Resignation. The Great Breakup is underway: Senior-level women are increasingly looking elsewhere for better opportunities. And as entrepreneur Monica Eaton explains, that’s to the great detriment of their previous employers.
Since 2015, LeanIn.Org and McKinsey have conducted their Women in the Workplace study to gain perspective on gender diversity in the corporate workforce. The most recent installment, informed by surveys with 40,000-plus workers, focused on how the pandemic influenced what women want from work: room to grow, work-life balance, well-being and DEI.
The study makes several things clear: Women are less likely than men to be promoted into positions of leadership, and — at least during the pandemic — women leaders are exiting their companies at higher rates than men.
Call it the “Great Breakup.” Women are no longer settling for what they can get; they are confident in what they want and will look elsewhere until they find it. Women are not losing their ambition; they are channeling it elsewhere.
A CNBC poll this year mirrors LeanIn and McKinsey’s findings: Among the reasons women were considering looking for another job were better pay (52%), less stress (51%) and better work-life balance (48%).
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Women have historically faced barriers to advancement, are frequently overworked and under-appreciated and are often perceived as less qualified than their male counterparts for no discernible reason other than their gender.
Today, about 25% of C-suite executives in the U.S. are women, according to LeanIn and McKinsey, and just 5% are women of color. And the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2022 predicts achieving gender equity will take another 132 years, considering such factors as gender disparity in education, economic opportunities, political empowerment, health and safety.
The ramifications of this divide will not go unnoticed. While people of all genders are motivated to make a meaningful impact on their workplace, their methodologies differ. According to recent case studies, men are typically more data-driven, while women drive change through employee engagement, inclusivity and overall employee well-being. When companies lean more in line with numbers and statistics, they lose out on meaningful and holistic change, and they lose traction when these indispensable female leaders move on and take their future achievements with them.
Other pain points for women in the workplace are microaggressions, discrimination and harassment based on gender, sexual orientation, race or religion. According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, one-third of employers perceive women who are mothers to be less interested in professional advancement, known as a “maternal wall.” The commission revealed that 77% of working mothers had experienced workplace discrimination.
Companies who fail to institute zero-tolerance policies for these behaviors do so at their own peril. Without proper channels for reporting instances of workplace bias, without taking an inventory of cultural divides that limit diversity and inclusivity, the world will eventually move on without them.
To avoid employee burnout, corporations and executive leadership need to nurture an environment of support, taking into account responsibilities outside of the office, such as family and community engagement. Performance recognition, mentorship programs, constructive feedback and work flexibility all contribute to a dynamic workforce willing to perform beyond expectations. This is where women in leadership can have a transformative global impact on workplace satisfaction and business success through empathy coupled with business acumen.
Research agrees. A Harvard Business School study concluded that women make better leaders because they are more transformational in their approach. Women are more effective listeners and engage in the development of others through coaching and mentoring. They possess more emotional intelligence and think more creatively, research showed.
In fact, research conducted by Frank Recruitment Group revealed that most Fortune 500 companies headed by a female CEO are more profitable than those led by men. Last year, 87% of the Fortune 500 companies with a woman in the top leadership position reported above-average profits, compared to just 78% of companies without a woman at the helm.
Harvard Business Review reported that companies with more women in leadership positions see increased business profits, become more socially responsible, and deliver higher-quality customer experiences. Women in C-suite roles make companies more open-minded and less open to risk. Research has also shown that female executives tend to eschew tradition and would rather challenge the status quo. And in behavioral psychology, adventurous thinkers inspire others on their team to be more receptive to increasingly innovative ideas.
Women do not simply check diversity boxes. They provide forward-thinking management styles that move stagnant companies out of their comfort zones, encouraging them to dream bigger.