Stemming the “She-Cession” Tide
New ways to support women in the workplace and end the exodus.
Sobering data in the Women in the Workplace Report by McKinsey shows that 1 in 4 women are on the edge of opting-out or downshifting their careers because of pandemic disruptions. Kim Feil, Aspire Brands CMO & CSO, Colette LaForce, 6x CMO, Independent Director, and Marti Walsh, NAPA AUTO PARTS VP of Marketing shared actionable, future-building insights on how to stem the tide on self-selected talent attrition in a recent CMO Club Virtual Roundtable discussion.
Five steps you can you take to end the exodus:
Be the change. Live the change.
- Everyone on your outside-of-work obligations. No category of responsibility is inherently more important than another. Respect the multidimensional lives your people lead by planning all-team meet-ups around these. Model grace, compassion, and kindness by honoring the diverse circumstances your team negotiates in their lives.
- Be the member of the leadership team that walks out of an important meeting to take an important personal call. Be the one that builds WFH into their calendar and into the cadence of the business.
Retain the positive ways the pandemic shaped work.
- In a virtual conference room there’s no seat at the head of the table. Reinforce the equal footing that the virtual workplace gave us. Use it to nurture voices that were previously marginalized, underrepresented, and unheard because of where they sat in the room.
- We’re now all empathetic to the “noise” disruptions that remote team members have always had to endure. Take the entire meeting virtual if the circumstances of the hybrid model translates into a turbulent experience for those participating remotely.
Build systems that institutionalize support.
- Make developmental objectives just as important as performance objectives for your people. Understand what their long-term career objectives are and help them build the skillsets, experiences, and network that will help them achieve it.
- Budget for and invest in training. Mobilize resources to help your talent build the communications and leadership skills they need to get them to the next level.
Change the vernacular. Stigmatize biased language.
- “She has sharp elbows.” “She’s difficult.” “She’s tough.” The biased language used to describe successful women and POC leaders is very destructive. These biases are deeply ingrained. Bring deliberate attention to them. We all need to check our own language first. Then we need to change the vernacular to create the right conditions for the next generation of talent to bring their authentic selves to work.
Reach back, pull forward.
- Encourage peer-to-peer mentoring. It’s a powerful way to receive guidance on challenges and bring blind spots into focus. Whether it’s a personal BOD or some other model, make sure your talent has established relationships with peers who are invested in their success and will give them honest feedback about both their strengths and their vulnerabilities.
- Support your people in approaching and securing executive sponsors within the organization. Help them identify the right candidates and make a personal connection. Be personally proactive about offering your sponsorship when you see someone who needs it.
- Hold your BOD accountable to mentoring, sponsoring, and spending time with the up-and-coming women and POC talent. Create more opportunities for your top talent to have exposure to and to benefit from interactions with the Board.
By taking an optimistic stance and being deliberate about our approach we can stop the She-Cession exodus and work to protect and grow gender diversity in the workplace.