Move over Great Resignation because the “Great Breakup” looks set to shake up gender balance—and not in a good way—into 2023 and beyond.
That’s according to the latest Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey, in partnership with LeanIn.Org, which found that women leaders are switching roles at higher rates than men, and companies are struggling to retain the few women leaders they do have.
Along with sustainability, diversity and inclusion (D&I) are two of the biggest buzzwords in workplace relations. Large organisations in particular have a heightened sense of awareness that their workforce needs to be representative and supportive of all women, including women of colour and LGBTQ+ women. If you look at many leading companies’ values, D&I features heavily, so why are so many women, particularly those in leadership roles, jumping ship?
What Is Happening?
The McKinsey report highlights that women in corporate America are leaving their roles for a number of reasons: microaggressions such as being mistaken for a more junior member of staff, not being rewarded for striving to create a more inclusive workplace, and not being afforded flexibility to help foster a more manageable work-life balance topped the poll.
On a global scale, only 25% of women feel fully included in the workplace, and women who feel excluded at work are three times more likely to quit than those who feel included. These findings from Bain & Company’s global study, The Fabric of Belonging: How to Weave an Inclusive Culture also highlight another worrying trend.
Employers which view female employees as a collective group with the same needs, and don’t understand that intersectionality (looking at specific groups of women based on their family responsibilities, race or ethnicity, tenure or place in the company) is the only way to foster a more inclusive future, will be the biggest losers when it comes to retaining and attracting top female talent at every level.
A study conducted by the European Institute for Gender Equality tells a similar story regarding flexibility around working hours, work-life balance, and the impact this has on keeping women in the workforce. It found that during the pandemic, women across the EU were doing 36 hours of unpaid care work each week, which amounts to almost 2,000 hours per year. The knock-on effect was felt most acutely in 2021 when the number of women not engaged in paid work increased for the first time in 17 years.
And in male-dominated sectors like fintech, female leaders are feeling the pinch when it comes to pitching themselves—fewer than half of female founders (45%) felt able to raise capital equity compared to 62% of men, while at junior to mid-level, 63% shared that they felt their gender impacted on how they were perceived professionally, compared to just 27% of men.
What Needs To Be Done?
So, what does real inclusion look like in tangible terms, when a subjective sense of feeling included simply isn’t enough?
Real change must start at the top, and leadership at C-suite level must dictate the agenda and reinforce a commitment to keeping women in the workplace by hiring and retaining female talent, which will in turn prompt more women to stay.
For its 2021 Gender Diversity Index, European Women On Boards (EWOB) reviewed and ranked over 600 listed corporations on national and European level and found that on average there are 35% of women on boards (far below the European Commission objective of 40%, set out 10 years ago) while only 7% make it to CEO.
The Bain report also suggests that behavioural enablers (openness, community, feedback, communication) must be matched with systemic enablers (promotion opportunities, coaching and personal development, company values) to drive inclusion for women, as women benefit from this combination more than their male counterparts who can successfully navigate promotion by benchmarking their success on systemic enablers alone.
Explore Other Options
That being said, gut instinct about how valued you feel in your current role shouldn’t be ignored, and if you are looking for a new role in a company that has proven its commitment to female employees, the Tech EU Job Board has dozens of opportunities.
Companies striving for improved D&I that are currently hiring include Booking.com which is working towards improving its 30% women in leadership positions, SAP, an organisation that holds itself accountable via its annual diversity and inclusion report, and Accenture which provides professional development to enable its female workforce to build on skills for success.