Not only do we see fewer women than men in leadership roles, but did you also know that organisations lose MORE female leaders than their male leaders.
Research from the House of Commons research shows that in the UK post-pandemic economic recovery, companies with more female leaders outperform those dominated by men. Well we already knew that, didn’t we.
Despite this, according to a study by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company, only 27% of women in the workforce hold managerial positions, compared to 72% of men.
While analysis by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) found that fewer than half (41%) of management roles in the UK workplace are held by women.
For its 2021 Gender Diversity Index, European Women On Boards (EWOB) reviewed and ranked over 600 listed corporations on a national and European level. Their findings were that on average there are 35% of women on corporate boards which is a long way short of the European Commission’s objective of 40%, set out 10 years earlier.
This disparity is even wider for women of colour and other marginalised groups.
Interestingly in 2022, Deloitte predicted that one in four leadership positions in large global technology companies would be held by women.
According to McKinsey, about 10.5% of female leaders left their company in 2021, compared with 9% of male leaders. This is the highest rate of voluntary departures since McKinsey started collecting data in 2017.
This higher rate at which female leaders leave companies is a significant issue that needs to be addressed. When companies lose talented female leaders, they miss out on valuable diversity of thought, perspective, and experience.
So, what causes companies to lose more female leaders than male?
One factor is the lack of women in leadership positions to begin with. When women are underrepresented in leadership roles, it creates a culture that is not supportive or inclusive of women. This can make it more difficult for women to advance and succeed in their careers.
In addition, the lack of representation can also lead to biases and stereotypes that can further marginalise and discriminate against women.
For example, a study by the Harvard Business Review found that women are often seen as less competent than men, even when they have the same qualifications and experience. This can lead to women being passed over for promotions or given fewer challenging assignments.
Another factor is the “leaky pipeline,” or the tendency for women to drop out of the workforce or leave leadership positions at a higher rate than men.
This can be due to a variety of reasons, such as the lack of flexible work arrangements or the lack of support for women who are balancing caregiving responsibilities with their careers.
For example, a study by the Center for American Progress found that women who are caregivers are more likely to leave the workforce or reduce their hours, which can have a negative impact on their careers and earning potential.
The motherhood penalty, or the negative impact that becoming a mother can have on a woman’s career, can also contribute to the loss of female leaders.
A study by the Harvard Business Review found that mothers are less likely to be hired, promoted, or receive fair pay compared to non-mothers.
Discrimination and bias are also major factors in the loss of female leaders. Women may face barriers to advancement or be passed over for promotions due to their gender.
They may also be paid less than their male counterparts for the same work, which can make it more difficult for them to advance and succeed in leadership roles. A report by the National Women’s Law Center found that women in the United States are paid on average 80 cents for every dollar paid to men, with even wider pay gaps for women of colour.
In the UK, women are paid 83p for every £ a man is paid. This pay gap can add up over time, making it more difficult for women to achieve financial security and advance in their careers.
This is a complex issue
In conclusion, the loss of female leaders in companies is a complex issue that is influenced by a variety of factors.
By addressing these issues and creating more supportive and inclusive environments for women, companies can retain and support the female leaders they have and help to bridge the leadership gap.
This is not only good for women, but also for companies, which benefit from the increased profitability, diverse perspectives and skills that female leaders bring to the table.
If you are one of those female leaders leaving or contemplating leaving, I’d LOVE to hear from you in the comments. What’s prompting you to leave and why now?
And if you’d like some support to fully unleash your leadership potential without losing the work-life balance you want and need, let’s talk.
Sometimes a simple conversation is all it takes.