The largest study of the state of women in corporate America shows women are switching jobs at the highest rate in years—and at a much higher rate than men in Leadership.
“Women are demanding more from work, and they’re leaving their companies in unprecedented numbers to get it,” concluded McKinsey in its 2022 Women in the Workplace report, conducted in partnership with LeanIn.Org. Companies that don’t take action in response to this trend are at risk of losing hard-won progress toward gender equality—and they may also struggle to attract and retain the next generation of women leaders.
3 key reasons
The study finds women leaders are leaving their companies for three key reasons.
Number one, while women leaders aspire to senior level roles, they face stronger headwinds than men. At many companies, women leaders experience micro-aggressions that undermine their authority and signal that it will be harder for them to advance.
Women leaders are also more likely to report that personal characteristics such as their gender or being a parent have played a role in them being denied or passed over for a raise, promotion or chance to get ahead.
According to the report, women leaders are 2x as likely as men to be mistaken for someone more junior, and 37% of women leaders have had a coworker get credit for their idea compared to 27% of men.
Black women leaders are more likely than women leaders of other races and ethnicities to receive signals that it will be harder for them to advance. Compared to other women at their level, Black women leaders are more likely to have colleagues question their competence and to be subject to demeaning behavior.
Number two, women leaders are overworked and under-recognized. Compared to men at their level, women leaders do more to support employee well-being and foster diversity, equity and inclusion, though they are not formally rewarded for that work at most companies.
The study finds that women leaders are 2x more likely as men to spend substantial time on work related to DEI. Forty percent of women leaders say their DEI work isn’t acknowledged at all in performance reviews, and 43% of women leaders say they are burned out compared to only 31% of men.
Number three, women leaders want a better work culture. Women leaders are significantly more likely than men to leave their jobs because they want more flexibility or because they want to work for a company that is more committed to employee well-being and DEI.
Women leaders are 1.5x as likely as men at their level to have left a previous job because they wanted to work for a company that was more committed to DEI, while 49% of women leaders say flexibility is one of the top three things they consider when deciding whether to join or stay with a company.