The Turnover Tsunami, Part 2: It’s Women Making the Biggest Waves
In my last blog post, I told you about the great spike in job turnovers in the spring and summer of 2021 and the challenges of pandemic retention. Well, there is more to the story. A March 2021 U.S. Census Bureau population survey found that 80% of those who have left the workforce since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020 were women. Much of the attrition has been attributed to challenges with childcare during lockdowns.
A recent McKinsey study (cited by Kathy Gersch in July 2021) confirmed that one in four women is seriously considering taking a step back from their careers – either by downshifting or leaving the workforce completely.
Women are still stereotyped as being nice, compassionate, and warm. These traits are viewed as good for caretakers, but not powerful, competent leaders.
It’s still harder for women—and for women of colour in particular—to establish networks that can help them navigate their careers in predominantly white industries and organizations. But the data is showing more and more that today’s most successful and impactful companies are also the most diverse.
What does this mean?
According to a recent McKinsey study, 48%% of entry-level employees were women. Yet, only 38% of middle-management were women, 22% of executives, and only 5% make it to CEO, according to this article in Harvard Business Review: How Schmoozing Helps Men Get Ahead.
So, while women are entering the workforce on even footing with men, they’re still not getting the same advancement opportunities as men.
James Dowd is the author of the book Write Dumb. In an opinion piece titled “The Old Boys’ Club: Why Agencies Continue to Lack Diversity, he observed:
“We white men are curators of cronyism at work, as in we suffer from in-group favouritism, awarding advantages to those we feel most comfortable with because we see ourselves in them. The result is paying others less, promoting and mentoring only our cronies, and inhibiting the growth of those we haven’t invited in.
We members of the boys club schmoozed our way in, through, and up. And we don’t make it easily accessible for everyone. ~ James Dowd
A telling statistic from the McKinsey study is that 81% of women surveyed reported that they often feel excluded from business lunches, happy hours, and other opportunities to build relationships with male bosses. Anecdotally, I believe that many members of underrepresented groups also feel excluded from these opportunities to develop closer relationships with male bosses.
It’s also a pattern that I think applies to older workers. The data shows that older workers were hit much harder by Covid-related layoffs than their younger counterparts, but many of them are not yet at retirement age and still have much more to contribute.
Older workers are often labelled as less tech-savvy, less energetic, less trainable, and more expensive than their younger counterparts. But I think that’s a short-sighted approach based on age stereotypes and biases. Many older workers have higher productivity than some organizations assume. They often have higher levels of expertise, stronger communication skills, and more highly developed judgment and problem-solving skills than their younger counterparts.
There’s also growing awareness of how mixed-age teams can outperform both exclusively young and exclusively older groups. With good management, the mix of experience and youth can be maximized to enhance the strengths that each brings to the table, rather than dwelling on the perceived differences between generations.
Besides, it’s not about pandemic retention. It’s predicted that within about 10 years, only one younger person will join the workforce for every two older workers leaving it.
Going back to Part One of this blog post: what got you here won’t get you where your company needs to go. For the sake of Pandemic retention, it’s worth taking the time to assess your employees’ development. To hire the right people who will grow with your company, it’s time to face your biases and assumptions. It’s time to go beyond hiring for fit.
Are you ready to go beyond writing a Diversity Statement, setting up a Diversity and Inclusion Committee, or offering some basic training to your workforce? Are you an employee who is seeking a more inclusive workplace? Dr. Helen’s training in Work and Business Psychology (officially known as Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychology) means she is a genuine expert in evaluating work-related behaviours. She uses those skills to help hiring managers tell the difference between people who say the right things during interviews and people who actually deliver on the job. Plus, she knows how to do it inclusively.
More than career coaching, it’s career psychology®.
I/O Advisory Services Inc. – Building Resilient Careers and Organizations.