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Women Quit Leadership Roles Faster Than Ever

For every woman at the director level who gets promoted, two female directors are choosing to leave their company, according to the McKinsey & Co and LeanIn study.
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women quit leadership roles faster than ever

Women leaders are switching jobs at the highest rate ever seen, and at a higher rate than men in leadership, according to the “Women in the Workplace 2022" study from McKinsey & Co. and LeanIn.

For every woman at the director level who gets promoted, two female directors are choosing to leave their company, according to the study, which analyzed data from 12 million employees at more than 330 companies. The study has been conducted annually since 2015.

Women are dramatically underrepresented in corporate America's leadership roles to begin with, especially at the highest levels: Only 1 in 4 C-suite leaders is a woman, and only 1 in 20 is a woman of color.

The problem begins at the very first step onto the leadership ladder, creating a “broken rung." For every 100 men who are promoted from entry-level to manager, only 87 women are promoted, and only 82 women of color are promoted, according to the study.

It's not due to a lack of ambition. Women leaders are as likely as men to pursue a promotion and aspire to be promoted to senior-level roles, according to the report. However, women leaders are more likely to have their authority undermined than their male peers. Women leaders are twice as likely 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 leaders.

Black women respondents were the most ambitious, with 59% of Black women leaders wanting to be top executives, compared to 49% of women leaders overall. However, Black women are also more likely than women of other races and ethnicities to receive signals that their path to leadership will be harder. While 28% of male leader respondents and 39% of women leader respondents of all demographics said their judgment had been questioned at work in the past year, 55% of Black women leaders had experienced that treatment.

For women at all levels in the workplace, work doesn't just stop at their place of employment. Women are far more likely than men to be responsible for most or all of their family's housework and caregiving. Fifty-eight percent of women in entry-level jobs, compared to 30% of men in entry-level jobs, are responsible for most or all of their household labor.

Meanwhile, men's responsibilities at home steadily decrease as they get promoted. Twenty-one percent are responsible for most or all of the housework and childcare when in first-level management, dropping to 13% in senior management and up. However, most women don't get that privilege. Instead, 58% of women in first-level management roles and 52% who are senior managers or higher are still responsible for their family's housework and childcare. 

It comes as little surprise that 43% of women leaders report being burned out, versus 31% of men at their level.

Additionally, workplace flexibility is a key priority for women leaders. Nearly half (49%) say flexibility is one of the top three factors they consider when deciding whether to join or stay at a company, compared to 34% of men leaders. And 48% have switched jobs for an opportunity to advance, compared to 44% of their male peers.

Notably, while corporate America continues to fail its women leaders, the independent insurance agency channel is gaining some ground in gender equity. In 2022, 47% of agency principals are women, a gain from 42% in 2020, according to the 2022 Agency Universe Study.

Four property-casualty insurance companies made the “100 Best Large Workplaces for Women" list from Fortune and Great Place to Work.

AnneMarie McPherson Spears is IA news editor. 

Thursday, November 10, 2022
Diversity & Inclusion