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The reason female execs leave is not glass ceiling

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HC Online | 18 Jun 2012, 12:00 AM Agree 0
New research has been released which is sure to shake up the long-held belief that female executives leave organisations because of the glass ceiling. The real reason is far more insidious.
  • Peter Macdonald | 18 Jun 2012, 02:17 PM Agree 0
    In my 30 year working experience one of the main reasons I have seen women give up the corporate world never gets a mention as it is a taboo subject when trying to promote gender equality. But I will say it regardless! Many women give up the corporate world in order to have children, Once most people (both male and female) have a child their priorities in life change drastically. For many women this results in a lack of desire to return to the workforce in the same capacity as before and therefore they dont.
  • Bernie Althofer | 18 Jun 2012, 02:32 PM Agree 0
    There seems to be this culture whereby males think that they have to stay and put up with a toxic culture, when their female counterparts do as indicated in the article.

    Having spoken to both males and females over the years in relation to bullying, and what many have described as 'toxic workplaces' and even workplaces where there are significant gaps between Codes of Conduct and what actually happens on the ground, it appears to me that many are concerned about future employment. Too many see staying as the only option and end up being further impacted by the effects of what they believe to be toxic workplaces. However, from time to time, some do highlight that there are some brilliant managers who create little rays of hope in what are otherwise fairly obnoxious and toxic workplaces.

    Like many other issues, it might be the really deep seated belief that some men have that they are the 'bread winners' so are duty bound to stay. In reality, it might be fear of change that drives them to stay. It does seem that respect and dignity, although espoused in Codes of Conduct etc, are in reality non-existent in some workplaces.

    Workplaces really do need to be concerned about the rise and rise of the toxic leaders, especially the psychopaths and psychopathic behaviours in the workplace, along with The Narcissism Epidemic. If recent comments made in several forums are any indication of future workplaces issues, it might be necessary to have some really difficult workpace discussions about these topics in the context of toxic cultures.
  • Anonymous | 19 Jun 2012, 07:20 AM Agree 0
    In regards to Peter's comment, as a mother who recently left a corporate job for the exact reasons described in this article, toxic environment, bullying, incompetent management, I can speak from experience that while being a mother changed me, it did not make me dislike my job or want to work less, in fact, being a mother made my job seem like an extravagant luxury that I was lucky to have. Having children did not make me anymore aware that spending any of my time in a toxic environment is not good for me, and would never lead me to fulfill my full potential.
  • Glenda May | 19 Jun 2012, 05:23 PM Agree 0
    This reinforces what we've known for some time. People leave, firstly, their boss, then their job, then their organisation. So you might have a job you love but if you don't respect your manager's values, then it becomes intolerable
  • Errol Benvie | 20 Jun 2012, 11:58 PM Agree 0
    The glass ceiling is a cognitive construct developed to describe the empirical evidence of women not rising in organisations. Glass being the lack of apparent cause. A primary reason has always been this toxicity described in this article. Organisations did not miraculously get toxic. The writers are probably Gen X who don't have a context to the way Baby Boomer (BBs) described their phenomenon. This is an intergenerational crossover of linguistics and not a new cause. Because toxicity and the insidious experience of corporate life was not discussed in the BB's era, only the empirical evidence of women not progressing upwards was attributed to pay and other tactile factors. These were the only factors used into the lexicon.
    Peter defines the BB illusion of thinking this is about only what you can see.
  • Earl Winston Squirrelson | 21 Jun 2012, 12:11 PM Agree 0
    I don't think it is just women that leave due to toxic workplaces. I for one am sick of the corporate culture in the last couple for workplaces I have had and have now taken a pay cut to actually be in a happy work environment rather than an unethical one where people will do whatever they can to get ahead and get that next promotion to be "happy".
  • Robin Pollock | 21 Jun 2012, 02:25 PM Agree 0
    On the contrary, you may have a good boss and work for a reputable organization, but if that boss is unable to stand up to his peers ie those operational bullies who treat you disrespectfully (putting it mildly) and not only breach policy and make a lie of the organization's values, there is just no choice but to leave that kind of toxity behind.
  • Anonymous Sydney | 22 Jun 2012, 04:56 PM Agree 0
    I left corporate life for the exact reasons outlined in the article and started my own business. I now earn less money but am happy. I wasn't influenced by children - I have none - and I'm fed up of the argument that womens careers are cemented to children. I've worked for a corporate psychopath that the company continued to support when 8 of my colleagues were suing him, I have been (like many capable women execs) a handmaiden to the greatness of men rising through the ranks while being manipulated into thinking that if I didn't do it, I wasn't a team player or opportunities would be denied to me. I've watched incompetent men promoted because they are "nice guys", and witnessed a raft of double standards applied to women (not just me) that were based on jealousy, insecurity, prejudices, and the pursuit of power for its own sake. There is a point after 20 plus years in similar environments where you say to yourself that to stay within that system, work with it and try to change is an exercise in futility. I am a fundamentally happy person and rather than lose my soul to permament toxicity, I got out. I know so many women in similar predicaments.
  • Anonymous Brisbane | 27 Jun 2012, 03:10 PM Agree 0
    Any man or woman interested in a great explanation of what is means to be male in our society and how that affects the corporate culture could read 'The Gender Knot' by Allan G Johnson. It's a fairly short read so not onerous and is highly relevant to the article.
  • Anonymous Adelaide | 01 Jul 2012, 02:42 PM Agree 0
    Having run my own business now with 10 staff, through 2 pregnancies and 25 years of child rearing, yes you can earn equally, but need to put in the hours that entails. that's why we chose not to follow my husbands career, but mine, but if you want a family it comes with obligations. More and more men are prepared to share in those obligations, but often it's a practical choice of who happens to be the best bread winner.
    The corporate environment and corporate push for $'s is no different to the individuals. For some it's the most important thing and a measure of their worth. Others know their worth and don't seek ratification in their earnings profile. To earn big dollars you need big input and sacrifice. Interesting. We have a culture of work life balance and we tend to hire an overweight in young female graduates. We pay at the median and on performance and expectation of hours as a standard 8 hour day, Yet after a few years training these young women ( as do the men) head to bigger corporates in the field where like the others, they work much longer hours, for a lower hourly rate, but a slightly higher pay. Does this mean we are taught to measure our worth by our pay packet . The genY and X want it all, high pay, low hours and many dont get it. It isn't about greed. If you can't pay for yourself why would any employer keep you on. He/she is not there to subsidize your lifestyle and as a peripheral to whatever else you do. By giving you a job the employer takes all the risk and training cost. Have a look in Europe where counties are suffering 40% youth unemployment and learn a few lessons. Australia will not be far behind as we are pricing ourselves out of the labour markets. As the mining boom slows, the measures will become as there, can I get a job, any job .
  • Michael C | 04 Jul 2012, 02:38 PM Agree 0
    Having recently left a senior HR role I would agree that my reasons for departing are similar to the reasons female execs leave - to get away from a toxic culture. This includes that I had brought the fact that at least three other staff had departed because of this but were unwilling to share this on the record, looking to avoid the potential for "burning bridges" and this tends to mask this. It is not male managers alone creating this toxicity, but female managers who have bought into the male mould adopting the poorer aspects of the behaviour. Thus, anyone leaving is painted up as "not being able to hack it in the real world" and the behaviour increases becoming a viscious circle. Our political bossess working in the environment of their own creation perpetuate this, and it flows down to working life.
  • Blythe Rowe | 07 Jul 2012, 08:26 AM Agree 0
    I agree and think it is not necessarily even a "female" thing, we sometimes just have the luxury of choosing to leave (if our partners are bringing in stable incomes).

    I am so passionate about this that I have just finished writing a book on it:

    "Bullies, Blamers, Bludgers - the three things killing productivity and profitability in modern business" - will be out late July.

    It's a straight talking book about real issues affecting individuals, leaders and businesses!
  • Maureen, Sydney | 07 Jul 2012, 09:57 AM Agree 0
    It's good that women do get out, and a great pity that more men dont also let go. Staying in a job that, for whatever reason, doesn't give you real engagement and a way to grow can lead to burnout syndrome with all it's devastating effects.
  • Annon Sydney | 07 Jul 2012, 12:17 PM Agree 0
    When I tell people about my background in the media, I generally say my reason for leaving was stress. People wrongly assume I'm referring to the stress of constant deadlines. But the truth is for 10 years I had a female manager who was a serial bully with a documented history of appalling behaviour which included an apprehended violence order and insurance claims by employees too stressed to return to work. When I left I sought an interview with HR so I could tell the truth about my experience. Despite being a senior person in the organisation I was interviewed by a junior from HR who was ill equipped to deal with such an interview. The whole episode was a complete mockery and a sad way to end what had been a long and otherwise rewarding career spanning 25 years. It took me a couple of years to really get over the damage done during those years. Today I run my own business and while my income is nowhere near what it used to be I wouldn't go back for anything. I spent 10 years in that toxic environment (which people described as a 'poisoned well') and while many people were unhappy they either stayed and kept their heads down or they left and said nothing for fear of burning bridges. I put a torch to my bridge, and I am glad I did, so I could never go back, no matter how hard the future might be.
  • Michelle | 08 Jul 2012, 05:02 PM Agree 0
    I have recently elected to opt out of the corporate world in favour of taking on a more senior role in a smaller business. I have had a great job and a great boss but i did feel the company as a whole operated with double standards. i couldn't go through one more round of annual reviews knowing there are large numbers of leaders being rewarded for mediocrity. I have also been appalled at the number of good team members who have left due to the impact of one noxious individual and he keeps surviving.
  • Rin | 09 Jul 2012, 01:29 PM Agree 0
    I have twice been subjected to horrendous workplace bullying that ended in me leaving both companies, the first time with a stress-related ulcer and two months' pay to shut me up, the second time I walked before the terrible treatment could take a toll on my physical health. The thing that still bugs me is that companies may say that they don't abide bullying, but in my experience they're not interested in backing the person making the complaint. There will always be bad eggs, but the way a company deals with bullying often says more about them than it does about the bully. I've been careful not to burn my bridges, but in hindsight I wish I'd kicked up more of a fuss - because HR sure as heck didn't take steps to ensure no-one else would be subject to the bullying.
  • Fiona White | 23 Sep 2012, 09:44 PM Agree 0

    Errol you may say that there is no glass ceiling, but as a 29 yo woman who has been brought up to believe you are just as capable as a man, I can honestly tell you that I have never experienced this, and I continue to see examples of discriminatory behaviour.
    I work for one of the largest global IT MNC, and I see daily evidence of women whom are not respected nor remunerated for the same capabilities that men are.
    I am paid considerably less than my male counterparts, even though we have exactly the same roles, responsibilities, sales targets and deliverables and the only reason I can tell you that this is the case is due to my sex.
    I hate saying that, as prior to joining the workforce I was against the feministic cause… however, since joining the workforce and seeing the immense injustice paid to women both in compensation and respect, I must stand up for what I believe in.
    Furthermore, to your comment regarding women choosing to ‘child-rear’ rather than work, I can not blame them. After the experience I have had with battling equal pay and respect, I concur it becomes too hard to fight the injustice in the ‘boys club’. The constant belittlement by senior management, where I feel in equal because I do not have to provide for a wife at home with 4 kids in private school, like other men in my position, is a constant reminder of the sexist discrimination. And this is at one of the top global IT firms.
  • Valerie | 08 Dec 2012, 09:57 PM Agree 0
    I believe that the Commonwealth Government House of Representatives Standing committee on Education and Employment has released their report on bullying in the workplace.

    Part of my comment to the training group that circulated this information to me was:

    Good luck, but with a society that is becoming more and more angry, and men with huge egos who stick together, and women who join them, you haven’t got a hope no matter how many committees are formed or how many laws are made or how much training is given or how many good intentions there are. And while organisations might be forced to have Regulations in place, and staff
    trained, surely no-one believes that they will be followed!!!!! How can you train someone to treat another person properly if it is not in their psyche or if they feel challenged in some way? I left a voluntary organisation, a job that I loved, because I became afraid for my safety. No-one would deal with it.

    We all know the game - I was told it was just boys' stuff as if that is OK.

    A male friend of mine in the same voluntary organisation was a victim of bullying (a fist in his face by a man twice his build) he was afraid for his life. He tried and tried to get justice despite their Regulations. He has now had a stroke, so problem solved.

    If you did by some miracle get justice, you would be branded and would never work again.
    You can’t beat it so why try? It is the nature of the beast. The money involved in this issue could have been saved for something that works – and pardon my negativity here, if there is such a thing today. But no more committees please.
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