Female leaders quit companies in the USA at the highest rate ever

Female leaders quit companies in the USA at the highest rate ever

Women frontrunners in the USA are quitting their jobs at an unprecedented rate, trying to find a better environment that is free of gender-specific obstacles and opportunities that meet their expectations, according to the Women in the Workplace 2022 report published by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company. Currently, the gap between women and men in managerial positions leaving their jobs is the largest corporate America has ever seen.

Women in senior positions want more from work. They are as ambitious as men and put a great deal of effort into bringing their goals to life. However, according to the report, in some organizations, women face gender-specific obstacles such as microaggression that undermines their authority, for instance, being mistaken for someone more junior or having their opinion questioned. This leads them to believe they will make little progress towards achieving their professional goals with that particular company and they thus make the decision to quit. At present, women are more likely to resign from their roles and switch companies. Lareina Yee, a senior partner at McKinsey & Company, said:

“Let’s be clear: Women aren’t saying they don’t want to work. They’re breaking up with companies because they’re confident they will get an opportunity to advance somewhere else, which is something we haven’t seen before … it really speaks to the fact that loyalty has its limits.”

Fig.1. Female seniors are quitting their positions at the highest rate ever recorded

Source: McKinsey & Company

For the report, LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company surveyed 40,000 employees from 333 participating organizations and interviewed female workers with diverse identities. They discovered that women, particularly women of color, are still significantly underrepresented in managerial roles. This is especially true for senior leadership positions with only one out of four executive positions being occupied by a woman, and only one in 20, by a woman of color.

Fig.2. Representation of women, by corporate role and race, 2022, % of employees

Source: McKinsey & Company

The reasons why women quit their jobs vary but, in 48% of cases, they are seeking new opportunities and, in 20% of cases, they want more flexibility. The report revealed that for female leaders, work culture matters more than for men. Women frontrunners want to work for companies that emphasize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). In fact, women are 1.5 times more likely than men to switch form one organization to another that is committed to DEI. Rachel Thomas, co-founder, and CEO of LeanIn.org, commenting on the findings, noted:

“We know women leaders are as ambitious as men, but they’re leaving their companies at the highest rate we’ve ever seen, and at a higher rate than men are leaving. The scale of it is surprising. Women leaders are clearly voting with their feet to say they’re not comfortable with the status quo and they don’t want to return to business as usual. That’s pretty disastrous for organizations because women continue to remain underrepresented in leadership, and now companies are losing their precious few women leaders.”

Fig.3. Reasons women leaders are switching jobs

Source: Politico

To make work a better place for women, companies need to ensure there are equal opportunities for men and women by promoting female and male workers at the same rate. Flexibility can also play a crucial role in gender parity. Women who are allowed to work from home or in a hybrid pattern experience less microaggression and consequently have better psychological safety. Finally, as the culture of work matters for women more than it does for men, companies are encouraged to take account of the metrics regarding people management and DEI in their performance reviews.