I’m so tired of bland business advice about how to retain women in leadership positions
- Talk about the purpose.
- Given them flexibility.
- Build an inclusive workplace.
Why bland? Because it’s not a strategy, it’s the minimum.
That’s why it was so refreshing to read Chief‘s article “What women leaders really want at work”
Chief’s “Make Work Work” survey of 847 Chief Members, all of whom are women at the VP level or above and who collectively manage $220 billion of the U.S. economy found that – surprise, surprise – there’s a massive disconnect between what companies think women want at work versus what they actually want. To be honest, that’s not a big surprise for me. Already in 2019, I wrote about the disconnect between HR and millennial women on the top reasons why those women leave companies.
So, what’s at the top of the wishlist for those 847 female leaders? In other words, if they considered leaving the workforce in 2022, which would make them more likely to stay?
Feeling more valued – Recently, I read in a community of women in tech a post from a female VP that is routinely expected to play the “secretary” for the exec team: Writing minutes, sending reminders… How valued do you think she feels?
Increased pay – Who would have guessed that women want to be paid as much as White men?
Promotion to a higher level of responsibility – Another shocker! I was sure women don’t care about promotions…
What retain women executives? In order of priority
Is that so different that what male leaders want?
Quiet quitting and rusting-out
So what happens to those that remain in their jobs and don’t get what they want?
In the last six months, there’s been a lot of chatter about quiet quitting. As per Forbes, “burned-out or unsatisfied employees put forth the least amount of effort possible to keep their paychecks”. Whilst for some this is a euphemism for lazy workers, others have made the case that quiet quitting can also be understood as refusing to be a workaholic and instead strictly delivering the work that matches your role and remuneration. But it’s not the only option.
Last week, I learned a new word rust-out: the condition of being chronically under-stimulated, uninspired, and unsatisfied at work.
In an article in Stylist, Sharon Peake mentions that “rust-out is also more likely to affect women than men due to the unique workplace barriers that women experience, such as the double burden of paid and unpaid (domestic) work. This often leads highly capable and experienced women to return to work part-time, working at a lower level of responsibility after maternity leave, or even opting out of the workforce.” Moreover, “it can cause employees to ‘doom loop’. that is, repeat unhelpful stories about ourselves.”
In my post Join the conversation: How has mansplaining impacted your life? I mentioned the importance of having words to explain and validate our experiences.
I can finally name the experience of all those fantastic women that started with me in tech years ago and that were given unappealing part-time jobs when they came back from maternity leave, without access to the plumb assignments that lead to career progression.
Their organisations had condemned them to rust out in their jobs.