Today is Valentine’s Day and I’m a woman who loves love. I am also a woman who is a realist; a woman who recognizes that some love stories don’t have happy endings. The Great Breakup transpiring in corporate America is an example of said story for many employers who have lost valuable assets in recent months also known as female talent.
Sheryl Sandberg, founder of Lean In states: “Women leaders are leaving their companies at the highest rate we’ve ever seen. They aren’t leaving the workforce entirely but are choosing to leave for companies with better career opportunities, flexibility, and a real commitment to DEI. This creates a looming pipeline disaster for companies. The broken rung is still broken, so we aren’t promoting as many women into management as men. Now, senior women, who are disproportionately doing the hard work that employees want around people management and DEI, are leaving for better opportunities elsewhere. And women, particularly women of color, still face biases at work that make it much harder to advance. Companies need to double down to remove bias from the workplace and make serious investments in DEI or we are in real danger of losing decades of progress toward women’s equality. The time to act is now.”
How long has the broken rung been broken?
How long have women been passed over for promotion?
How long have women done “the hard work?”
How long have women of color faced biases that make it much harder to advance?
How long have companies known they need to double down to remove bias and not only invest in DEI initiatives, but commit to meaningful change?
I can answer that – long before The Great Breakup. These challenges aren’t new but one thing is for certain, this story is getting old. The challenges women in the workplace continue to face are avoidable. Now that women are leaving companies for ones that will appreciate them, present advancement opportunities, compensate them and offer flexibility – I hope this serves as a wakeup call that employers can no longer afford to ignore.
Employers who are committed to developing, promoting and retaining women can:
- Eliminate barriers to advancement that only impact women. (1) Latinas and Black women receive less support from their manager when it comes to career development. They also experience less psychological safety. (2) Asian women and Black women lack strong allies on their teams. (3) LGBTQ+ women and women with disabilities experience more demeaning and microaggressions. (4) Women with disabilities often have their competence challenged and undermined. Employers, what’s needed like yesterday is a sense of urgency, more solutions and fewer excuses.
- Recognize women for their contribution in ways that matter most to them. According to McKinsey.com, “Women do more to support and foster DEI—work that dramatically improves retention and employee satisfaction but is not formally rewarded in most companies. 40% of women leaders say their DEI work isn’t acknowledged at all in performance reviews. Spending time and energy on work that isn’t recognized could make it harder for women leaders to advance. It also means that women leaders are stretched thinner than men in leadership.” The end result – 43% of women leaders are burned out compared with 31% percent of men.
- Cultivate a true inclusive culture. Women will more than likely leave because they want flexibility; they want to work for employers who are committed to well-being and DEI – not one or the other. If solutions aren’t implemented sooner than later, the pipeline problem will persist. There is a generation of women behind us who will disregard companies that refuse to take action and create workplaces with their needs in mind. We don’t have to witness a compound effect when it comes to companies righting their wrongs relevant to women in the workplace.
Although it may take time to fix what’s happening with The Great Breakup, women are sending a clear message to employers in 2023 as they say goodbye: “It’s not me, it’s you.”
Thank you McKinsey.com for your insights courtesy of Women in The Workplace Report 2022.