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Women Leaders Leaving Jobs At High Rates, Study Says

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Women leaders are switching jobs at the highest rate in years, and at a much higher rate than men in leadership, a new study has found.

This was the lead conclusion of the eighth annual “Women in the Workplace” report compiled by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company. 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, according to the study’s authors.

“We are in the midst of a Great Breakup in corporate America,” said Sheryl Sandberg, founder of Lean In. “Women leaders are leaving their companies at the highest rate we’ve ever seen. They aren’t leaving the workforce entirely but are choosing to leave for companies with better career opportunities, flexibility, and a real commitment to DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion].

“This creates a looming pipeline disaster for companies. The broken rung is still broken, so we aren’t promoting as many women into management as men… The time to act is now.”

The reasons these leaders are switching jobs are telling, the study says. For instance, while women leaders are just as ambitious as men, they’re more likely to experience microaggressions that signal it will be harder to advance. That includes circumstances in which women leaders are twice as likely as men at their level to be mistaken for someone more junior.

“Women have long faced significant challenges to advancement in the workplace, and these findings confirm that serious barriers continue to exist,” said Bob Sternfels, global managing partner of McKinsey & Company, a high-file management consulting firm. “Yet we have also seen that the companies that take the right steps can – and do – improve the representation and experience for women in their organizations.”

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To read the full report, click here.

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