Women leaders jumping ship at higher rate than men

'This creates a looming pipeline disaster for companies'

Women leaders jumping ship at higher rate than men

Female leaders are leaving their employers at a higher rate than their male counterparts. Specifically, 29% of women thought about reducing their hours, taking a less demanding job or leaving the workforce altogether — compared to 22% of men, according to a report by Lean In and McKinsey.

For every woman at the director level who gets promoted to the next level, two women directors are choosing to leave their company, finds the report based on data and insights from 333 companies representing more than 12 million people, along with survey responses from over 40,000 employees.

"We are in the midst of a ‘great breakup’ in corporate America,” says Sheryl Sandberg, founder of Lean In. “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.”                   

Currently, one in four C-suite leaders is a woman, and only one in 20 is a woman of colour. Also, for every 100 men who are promoted from entry level to manager, only 87 women are promoted, and only 82 women of colour are promoted.

As a result, men significantly outnumber women at the manager level, and women can never catch up, according to the report.

"This creates a looming pipeline disaster for companies,” says Sandberg. “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 colour, still face biases at work that make it much harder to advance.”

Why women leave

Only one in 10 women wants to work mostly on-site, with women in the workplace almost 1.5 times as likely to experience demeaning and "othering" microaggressions compared to when they work mostly remotely, says the report.

Also, women leaders are just as ambitious as men, but they're more likely to experience microaggressions that signal it will be harder to advance. For example, women leaders are twice as likely as men at their level to be mistaken for someone more junior.

“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,” says Sandberg. “The time to act is now."

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