Why women leave – it’s not complicated
Companies need to learn why women leave
Why women leave businesses is not complicated, so organisations need to start with some serious self-examination
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 such as Nike which made the headlines recently. 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.
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.
Birgitta 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!
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."
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.
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.
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, return-ships or parenting opportunities, companies having these in place will be a key market differentiator to attract female talent.
Toxic bosses or culture
Toxic bosses can actually be male or female. But as the senior levels are male dominated they do tend to be male. They are generally poor leaders, inconsistent communicators, moody and unpredictable, have vague performance expectations which gives them permission to be unrelentingly critical, as women struggle to perform to unspecified goals. They create an atmosphere of distrust where all fear failure in an environment which lacks psychological safety. Women experience "mico-aggressions" on a daily basis. Some might be sexist in tone, others not. As we saw in Nike only this week where a number of high level women left because of the toxic and sexist management culture.
Reported in the New York Times those women interviewed said:
"the workplace environment was demeaning to women. Three people reportedly said there were instances where men referred to other people using a crude term for women's genitals. Another woman said that her boss called her a "stupid bitch" and threw his car keys at her. She said that he still remained her boss even after reporting the alleged incident to human resources."
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.
Or perhaps was we saw with Nike it will take a revolt from the women concerned and those men will be forced leave too.
The question is will action be taken fast enough?
3Plus International offers a portfolio of solutions for corporate clients seeking to hire more women. Contact us Now!
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Dates for the Diary
November 12th European Commission DG GROW
Informal talk on how to deal with sexism - 12.30 - 1400
November 25th Council of the European Union - Corporate Event
How to deal with sexism and harassment in the workplace
Download and listen free podcasts
How to Create an Effective USP What is a USP? Our Unique Selling Point or UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is our key core message about where...read more
How to Rethink the Modern Workplace for Gender Equality New research shows that diversity and inclusion is a top priority for leaders. So why...read more
Menopause in the workplace In this podcast with Nicki Williams award winning author, keynote speaker and Founder of Happy Hormones for Life,...read more
How to Cultivate Empathy in the Workplace Nancy Milton, international business communications expert, keynote speaker and author, share some vital...read more
Taking Care of your COW Tanvi Guatam, international Personal Branding expert says there is a misconception out there that a personal brand is...read more
The importance of Hard Talk Dawn Metcalfe, author of Managing the Matrix and Hard Talk, shares with us tips to achieve the lasting communication...read more
When Does Female Rivalry Turn into Sabotage There’s a lot of stuff written on social media about female rivalry and competition between women. Some...read more
Goal setting tips to boost your career The happiest people are those that really love their jobs. Those that don’t, dread Sunday nights and...read more
Sexism: How to stage a Bystander Intervention in the Workplace In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions...read more
How to Get Noticed by Head Hunters & Recruiters In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions asked multiple...read more
Conference swag bags no longer feel like a welcome gift, and instead tend to feel like a waste of resources and effort. Here are some tips to improve them.read more
Make your employer brand attractive to women so that you can attract the top potential candidates.read more
We use it casually every day, but now we need to work out the best social media etiquette for professional use. Remember, your whole reputation could be gone with just one click.read more