Welcome to my weekly Q&A roundup. (Scroll down to find the Q&A.)
If this is your first time here, welcome. I spend a fair amount of time speaking at events and conferences. At the end of my presentations, I leave space for audience members to ask questions — tough questions, brave questions, you name it. The level of candor and curiosity always inspires me, and I want to share that sentiment with you. So each week, I pick one question that I believe others would find most instructive and publish my response to it here.
The purpose of this weekly tradition is transparency and inclusivity.
- Transparency: a behind-the-scenes look at my day-to-day.
- Inclusiveness: bringing others along on the journey.
Retaining Women In The Great Resignation
How can companies attract and retain women in light of the Great Resignation?
Summer appears to have spurred some soul searching among the labor force, because a mere three months ago, only 36% of employees were looking for new career opportunities. Today, that number has nearly doubled, with 65% of employees saying they are looking for new jobs. And, 88% of executives say they are seeing higher-than-normal turnover rates.
These reports come amid the backdrop of women’s blunted labor force participation, which hovers around 57.5% versus 59.2% pre-pandemic. (We’re back to 1988 levels in terms of women’s labor force participation rate.)
In other words, attrition among workers is high and the pool of women workers is shallow.
Why Are Workers Leaving Their Jobs?
According to Gallup, employees want to work for an organization that “cares about employees’ wellbeing.” This desire for wellbeing ranks in the top three criteria across the generation spectrum. For millennials and Gen Z, wellbeing is the top workplace want.
Given that 62% of working women reported stressing “a lot of the day yesterday” (compared to 52% of men), companies should focus on employee wellbeing to attract and retain women.
Granted, people hold different conceptions of “wellbeing,” and the word carries an air of snowflake elusiveness. So let’s make it concrete. In the case we’re talking about here, “wellbeing” rides on five dimensions. Below, I define the five dimensions and cross-reference each dimension with intersectional gender equity data.
The Five Dimensions Of Wellbeing
1. Career wellbeing. Are women given equitable access to opportunities for advancement? Based on Pipeline’s implementations, we found that men receive promotions at a 21% greater rate than women (in aggregate), and the promotion gap doubles for Black women.
2. Social wellbeing. Are women included in communication channels at work so that proximity bias doesn’t negate their performance? Currently, 82% of business leaders endorse hybrid work but only 13% are concerned about ensuring parity between remote and in-office employees. This comes at a time when 97% of Black knowledge workers compared to 79% of White knowledge workers want a hybrid or full-time remote work schedule.
3. Financial wellbeing. Are women being paid equal wages for work of equal value? Despite decades of advocacy, the gender pay gap rages on. Black breadwinner moms — who have the largest gender pay gap of any cohort of women in the US — earn 44 cents on the White breadwinner dad’s dollar.
4. Physical wellbeing. Can women engage in their work without fear of harassment or abuse? If you’ve been paying attention to the Activision Blizzard news, you know that sexual harassment in the workplace didn’t end with the #MeToo movement.
5. Community wellbeing. Are women supported outside the office so they aren’t carrying a disproportionate burden of the second shift? Women’s burden of unpaid labor skyrocketed by 153% during the pandemic, which is one reason why their labor force participation rate regressed to 1988 levels.
How Can Companies Retain Women?
Start with this: Go through each of the five dimensions of wellbeing (career, social, financial, physical, and community). Is your company supporting women, and all workers, along each of those five dimensions?
Also consider this:
While wellbeing is the #1 workplace want among all employees, we also know that, among those actively seeking different jobs, 46% of women (compared to 34% of men) are looking for higher salaries.
Moreover, one in three women of color plan to leave their jobs by 2022. The number one reason why? Burnout. Number two? Seeking better pay and benefits. Again, go back to those five dimensions of wellbeing to ensure that each dimension is equitable for all cohorts of your talent base.
A Thought Experiment To Spur An Equitable Retention Strategy
You can try this thought experiment right now to brainstorm ways to make your talent retention strategy more equitable. Imagine you’re offboarding a woman employee and conducting her exit interview. How might she respond to these questions:
- Is there anything we could have done that would have changed your mind about leaving?
- Do you believe you were given achievable goals?
- Do you believe you were recognized appropriately for your work?
- Do you believe you were given access to the resources you needed to do your job?
- Do you believe you were given clear and actionable feedback?
- Would you consider working here in the future?
Use these questions — together with the five dimensions, to guide your conversation on employee wellbeing. That, in turn, will help lead you toward equitable employee retention during the Great Resignation.