What the C-Suite must do to keep Talented Executive Women

by | Apr 19, 2023 | Leadership Team Coaching

According to a McKinsey Report, in 2022, 29% of women considered leaving their jobs, and specifically “women leaders are leaving their companies.” Chief seconded this notion when the female-focused think tank found that one-third of the more than 800 executive women that they interviewed were considering leaving the workforce.

The McKinsey report summarized that women are leaving for three primary reasons:

  1. They want to advance but they face more challenges than men in similar positions
  2. They are often over-worked and under-recognized
  3. They want a better work culture

Chief similarly found that women also report wanting more recognition, more money, and promotions.

With women still underrepresented in leadership and executive positions, any further decrease will have an outsized impact. It is clearly not enough to bring women into executive roles if organizations aren’t willing to change internal systems and practices to support those women.

The corporate system was developed to generate profits, not well-rounded, healthy humans. The system no longer reflects modern lifestyles. And let’s be real: It does a disservice to not acknowledge that people from all gender identities don’t feel the system supports their priorities. Twenty-two percent of men, per the McKinsey report, are considering leaving their jobs. A system that doesn’t recognize that executives have demands outside of work are missing the opportunity to help build communities full of people who  live fuller, happier, less stressful lives.

As more studies point to the ROI of having a diverse leadership team and corporate social responsibility takes on a more influential role in our board rooms, it is imperative for C-Suite leaders to look beyond out-dated systems. Modern executives must be willing to do things differently than the generations before them. And not just because it is objectively the right thing to do morally, but because it is the best business decision.

For the executive willing to interrogate their current systems and practices with the goal of building profitable companies run by humans who have multi-faceted lives, we offer the following examples of changes that improve the culture of organizations in a way that benefits all leaders, not just women:

A flexible work environment. Flexible hours as well as flexibility around coming to the office or working from home. According to a study published by the National Library of Medicine entitled Work Flexibility and Work-Related Well-Being, changing one’s schedule decreased the likelihood of job stress by 20% and increased the likelihood of job satisfaction by 62%.” People want flexibility in order to be a part of family life as well as a leader in work.

Offering paid caregiving, family leave and childcare benefits. The National Partnership for Women & Families has concluded that, “about one in 14 workers each year needs leave but does not take it, most often because they cannot afford to take unpaid leave.” At a most basic level, paid leave policies improve recruitment and retention, which leads to lower turnover costs and enhances the company’s brand and reputation.

Transparency in pay scales and equal pay. The fact that pay transparency is still not a standard corporate practice and pay discrepancies remain tied to gender (among other factors), is not just discouraging for women, it is truly a stain on every organization that doesn’t make sure that pay equality is a top priority.

Maximum 40-hour work weeks for all employees. For true life balance for every employee, the work day must end and the work week must end. Various studies have found that employees, and in particular women, are more productive, more engaged, more satisfied when they have more balance.

At Bright Arrow, our purpose is to create an abundant and equitable world, because of great leaders. We believe that great leaders are everywhere, looking beyond the short-term discomfort of change and adopting fresh approaches that, yes, attract and retain more women, but also serve the broader communities in which we live and work. By being the leaders who use our power to standardize the suggestions proposed in this article, we can eliminate the need to ever speak about the gender divide in the workforce again. Wouldn’t that be a relief? Together, we can create a future where no one ever writes an article on workforce gender equity or work life balance ever again. Let’s step into that future together, with confidence.

To learn more about Bright Arrow Coach and post author Lisa Kaplin, visit her profile here.

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