Women in the Workplace 2020

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A crisis is looming
in corporate America

The Covid-19 crisis has disrupted corporate America in ways we’ve never seen before. No one is experiencing business as usual, but women—especially mothers, senior-level women and Black women—have faced distinct challenges. One in four women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce due to Covid-19.

This year’s report makes one thing clear: Corporate America is at a critical crossroads. Without bold steps, we could erase all the progress we’ve made toward gender diversity in the six years of this study. But if companies rise to the moment, we can lay the foundation for a more flexible and equitable workplace in the long-term.

Read the full report for a framework for taking action.

Read the report


Companies are at a crossroads

“Some companies may think that worrying about employee burnout is a luxury they can’t afford right now. In fact, it’s mission-critical. If companies rise to the moment, they can head off the disaster of losing millions of women and setting gender diversity back years.”
— Sheryl Sandberg and Rachel Thomas
Read LeanIn.Org’s essay on WSJ.com
6th year

Women in the Workplace 2020

Women in the Workplace is the largest study on the state of women in corporate America. Based on data from 317 companies employing more than 12 million people, this year’s report features:

  • An overview of what companies are doing to support employees during COVID-19—where they’ve stepped up, and where they can do more
  • A detailed look at the dynamics that are driving mothers, senior-level women, and Black women to consider downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce
  • Recommended strategies for addressing the core challenges women are facing and taking an intersectional approach to diversity
Read the report

As Women Fight to Maintain Progress,
Companies Need to Reimagine How They Operate

“Even during these chaotic times, people have stayed productive. Imagine what could happen if we really embraced flexibility, which involves more than just choosing where to work. Instead of losing ground, we might experience a revolution of more productive—and happier—workers from all different backgrounds.”
— Kevin Sneader and Lareina Yee
Read McKinsey & Co.’s essay on WSJ.com

Additional Resources For Companies

To read more McKinsey perspectives on gender, diversity, and company practices, visit: mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion.

Lean In’s 50 Ways to Fight Bias is an online activity and video series that highlights more than 50 specific examples of bias against women at work and offers research-backed recommendations for what to do. 95% of employees who’ve participated in the program say they are more committed to taking action. To access the free digital version of the program which has been optimized for virtual gatherings, visit leanin.org/50Ways.

About the study

Women in the Workplace is the largest study on the state of women in corporate America. This year, we collected information from 317 participating organizations employing more than 12 million people and surveyed more than 40,000 employees to better understand their day-to-day work experiences. Our 2020 findings focus on how the Covid-19 crisis has impacted women at work. We also look at the impact of incidents of racial violence in the U.S., and at how the events of this year could change the workplace going forward.

LeanIn.Org report authors and contributors:
Ali Bohrer, Jenna Bott, Kelen Caldwell, Gina Cardazone, Marianne Cooper, Chloe Hart, Ryan Hutson, Allison Koblick, Madison Long, Sonia Mahajan, Jordan Miller-Surratt, Mary Noble-Tolla, Megan Rooney, Raena Saddler, Rachel Thomas, Kate Urban, Kirsten Tidswell, Katie Wullert.

McKinsey & Company report authors and contributors:
David Akopyan, Janet Chen, Eduardo Coronado-Sroka, Sarah Coury, Meghna Dasgupta, Kweilin Ellingrud, Allison Esho, Claudia Hanley, Jess Huang, Mekala Krishnan, Alexis Krivkovich, Ankur Kumar, Shaina Milleman, Aline Nachlas, Jonathan Posner, Sara Prince, Samuel Schwager, Bryan Schwimmer, Divyanka Sharma, Ava Stills, Archana Somasegar, Ashley Wright, Lareina Yee.


We would like to thank Getty Images for providing the photography from the Lean In Collection used in this report and website.

We would also like to thank the 317 companies and more than 40,000 employees who participated in this year’s study. By sharing their information and insights, they’ve given us new visibility into the state of women in the workplace and the steps companies can take to achieve gender diversity.

In particular, we appreciate the continued help of Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIAA), Equity Collaborative, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, International Dairy Foods Association, Massachusetts High Technology Council, Press Forward, SEMI Foundation, Women’s Network in Electronic Transactions (WNET), and Women’s Foodservice Forum in convening participants in their respective industries.