Why women leave – it’s not complicated

Companies need to learn why women leave

Hardly a week goes by when I don’t read a piece written about why women leave their companies. Whether it’s tech, law, accounting firms, or big corporates. Many of these sectors, and companies within them, have high levels of churn at a critical point in the lives and careers of their female employees.

why women leave

Why women leave

This week I had a conversation with Birgitta (not her real name) about her career.  She was in a taxi to the airport at 1700 to catch a night flight for a breakfast meeting the following day. She  is a multi-lingual, high powered and successful international Sales V.P. in the Tech sector. During the years I have known and worked with her, she is regularly approached by companies and head hunters, with attractive offers to jump ship. Some opportunities she dismisses out of hand. Others she considers seriously. She has a very strong idea of her values and is willing to walk away from organisations when they are out of sync with her own. She is aware of her value on the market.

She is a typical case study.

In  the discussion about her career progression, she articulated very clearly what considerations are important for her next move. Her comments resonated, because I am hearing them spoken all the time . Companies read, learn and listen!Tweet this

No Women on the Executive Committee

Having women in highly visible positions of influence and authority is really important. Not just because they help boost revenue, but they show a message of confidence in the women in the organisation. When Birgitta asked her CEO why there were no women on the leadership team, his response was “women don’t want to be like us.”Tweet this

No they don’t! But that doesn’t mean to say they can’t make an equal contribution to support the success of your company at a senior level.

Weak HR function

When tasked to recruit women for two open slots on her team, Birgitta encountered “we can’t find any.” That is nothing short of lazy hiring practises. This means that indolent recruiters can’t be bothered to do a little creative thinking. Read: 7 ways to hire more women. A strong HR function committed to diversity and inclusion is critical. What we don’t want are any more indifferent or ineffective HR VPs, driving policies and operations, oblivious to the unconscious biases that plague their organisations. The number of women who experience illegal interview questions is alarmingly high. Read: How to attract talented women to your organisation. That’s before we go onto discuss unconscious bias.

Male coded messages

Tired of being surrounded by male coded messages at every step, Birgitta will only consider a move to a company with a committed and visible gender balance policy. The company will need to walk the talk. So whether this is a real equal pay policy, retraining and leadership development programs, returnships or parenting opportunities,  companies having these in place will be a key market differentiator to attract female talent.

So when companies ask why women leave, and moan that their numbers are out of sync with their targets, then some serious self-examination will be necessary from male leadership teams.

The question is will they do that fast enough?

Read117 years for gender parity. Get busy or wait?

3Plus International offers a portfolio of solutions for corporate clients who seek to hire more women.  Contact us  Now!

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Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she joins the dots between organisations, individuals, opportunity and success.

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