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You’ve probably heard about ‘The Great Resignation’, ‘Quiet Quitting’ or maybe ‘The Great Regret’. Now there’s a new buzz phrase to add to the list. Recent reports out of the US have flagged that we’re in the middle of ‘The Great Breakup’ – a phenomenon in which female leaders have been leaving their roles in large numbers as a result of lacklustre working conditions.

The reporting is mostly centred around this Women in the Workplace Report, which highlights a few concerning statistics:

– For every 100 men promoted to first-level manager at the end of 2021, only 87 women were promoted
– Only one in four C-suite leaders is a woman and only one in 20 C-suite leaders is a woman of colour
– 37% of women leaders believe that they have seen a coworker get credit for their idea, compared with just 27% of male leaders
– 43% of women leaders feel burned out, compared to only 31% of male leaders

These are US statistics, however the stats we have for Australia (courtesy of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency – WGEA) paint a similar picture. The WGEA notes that women hold only 17.6% of chair positions, 31.2% of directorships, 34.5% of key management positions and 19.4% of CEOs.

How can companies retain talented women?

The reporting highlights remote work and flexible conditions as key methods for retaining talented women. Only one in 10 women want to work predominantly on site. Companies that fail to offer strong remote and hybrid working models in this “post COVID” world are going to lose great employees – plain and simple.

Another important factor is managerial support. Women that don’t feel supported by their manager and don’t feel that their manager cares about their well being are much more likely to leave. Managers also need to reward hard work and ambition. The statistics show that women are just as ambitious as men, therefore managers that cannot provide their female staff with a clear career path are going to risk losing them. Young women are particularly ambitious – 58 per cent of women under 30 say career advancement is important to them, compared to 31 per cent of all women in the workforce.

This problem is an extension of ‘The Great Resignation’, in that companies that are struggling to retain great male staff are going to struggle even more in the current environment to retain great female staff. 

Women are simply not tolerating poor conditions in the same way that they were prior to COVID. Forward thinking companies who are willing to adapt to the current day expectations of their staff will reap the benefits.