working women

Fewer #WomenExecutives at Companies Because They Exit

You can’t change what you don’t measure.

This is as true for losing weight as it is for companies who want to go beyond paying lip service to the goal of retaining and advancing women.  A growing number of multinational companies have started tracking their female employees career development.  This goes beyond merely counting the number of female employees, but includes tracking their titles, pay, tenure, and even includes things like how long they go on maternity leave.  The questions that these companies are trying to answer include:

How often are women getting promoted?  Where did corporate mobility stagnate?  What forces pushed turnover?  What policies helped new parents stick around?

These questions are ones that Avon started asking, according to a recent Washington Post article about companies at the forefront of gender data collection.  And Avon is apparently not alone.  Companies like L’Oreal and French retailer Carrefour are also tracking female staff in order to improve their retention and promotion of women.

What’s fascinating here is that companies are doing this completely voluntarily.  They are enlisting the help of human resources consulting firms such as Mercer, in this effort.

Mercer has reported that a growing number of multinational companies have asked them to help analyze their HR data, which includes crunching numbers on every career event for female staff: promotions, changes in pay, department, managers, and even relocation.  Specifically, Mercer analyzed gender data for 164 companies in 28 countries.  Their aggregate findings show what we already know: the numbers of women executives at the highest echelons of management are low.  But what is new, is that women and men executives are hired in the same percentages but women “exit” these executive positions at 1.5x the rate of men.  14% of women depart these executive roles, compared to 9% of men).  We don’t know whether these women are fired or quit (its probably both) but these figures from Mercer confirm that the low numbers of women in leadership positions is not purely a “pipeline” problem.

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