“I think people have come through the pandemic feeling a bit more empowered. We’ve realized that being in a toxic environment where you’re not happy is just not worth it.”
We’re in the midst of a “Great Breakup”
There are always winners and losers in the war for talent, and the stakes are higher than ever for companies that want to achieve gender equality.
Women are demanding more from work, and they’re leaving their companies in unprecedented numbers to get it. Women leaders are switching jobs at the highest rate we’ve ever seen—and at a higher rate than men in leadership. This could have serious implications for companies. Women are already significantly underrepresented in leadership. For years, fewer women have risen through the ranks because of the “broken rung” at the first step up to manager. Now, companies are struggling to hold on to the relatively few women leaders they have. And all of these dynamics are even more pronounced for women of color.
The reasons women leaders are stepping away from their companies are telling. Women leaders are just as ambitious as men, but at many companies they face headwinds that make it harder to advance. They’re more likely to experience belittling microaggressions, such as having their judgment questioned or being mistaken for someone more junior. They’re doing more to support employee well-being and foster inclusion, but this critical work is spreading them thin and going mostly unrewarded. And finally, it’s increasingly important to women leaders that they work for companies that prioritize flexibility, employee well-being, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
If companies don’t take action, they won’t just lose their women leaders; they risk losing the next generation of women leaders, too. Young women are even more ambitious, and they place a higher premium on working in an equitable, supportive, and inclusive workplace. They’re watching senior women leave for better opportunities, and they’re prepared to do the same.
Women in the Workplace 2022
Women in the Workplace is the largest study on the state of women in corporate America. Based on data from more than 333 companies employing more than 12 million people, this year’s report features:
- A detailed look at the impact of flexibility and remote and hybrid work on women’s experiences
- Insights on the distinct biases and barriers faced by Black women, Latinas, Asian women, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities
- Data-driven best practices for advancing and retaining all women employees
- Specific recommendations for closing the gap between what’s expected of managers and how they’re trained and rewarded
“Burnout from management responsibilities and unsustainable workload has made me more ambitious, but not in the same way. I’m more ambitious about going after something different. I’m more ambitious about making a career change or going after something where I feel more fulfilled.”
Tools to drive change
McKinsey & Company has made a commitment to researching and building diverse leadership, as well as inclusive and equitable work environments. We have a track record of client service to institutions working to modernize their talent and business processes as well as cultures to support these aims. McKinsey offers award-winning programs to equip leaders with the network, capabilities, and mindsets needed to achieve their goals. Our Connected Leaders Academy has enrolled 40,000 leaders. We will soon launch an early career program and expand our capability-building offering designed to support all leaders in creating inclusive organizations. Visit mckinsey.com to explore McKinsey’s client service, research, and insights on DEI.
This year’s report clearly shows that women want more opportunity to advance and a better work culture. Lean In’s company programs can help—and they’re available at no cost, because every company should have the tools to build an equitable workplace. 50 Ways to Fight Bias teaches employees how to recognize and challenge the biases women experience at work. Allyship at Work empowers employees at all levels to take meaningful action as allies and foster inclusion. And Lean In Circles bring women together for peer mentorship, camaraderie, and skill building. Find out why organizations like Adidas, Walmart, and WeWork are using our programs and how you can bring them to your company at leanin.org/partner.
ABOUT THE STUDY
Women in the Workplace is the largest study on the state of women in corporate America. In 2015, LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company launched the study to give companies insights and tools to advance gender diversity in the workplace. Between 2015 and 2022, over 810 companies participated in the study, and more than 400,000 people were surveyed on their workplace experiences. This year, we collected information from 333 participating organizations employing more than 12 million people, surveyed more than 40,000 employees, and conducted interviews with women of diverse identities, including women of color, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities. Our 2022 report provides an overview of the state of work for women in corporate America, and focuses on how the pandemic has changed what women want from their companies, including the growing importance of opportunity, flexibility, employee well-being, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
LeanIn.Org report authors and contributors:
Alexandra Aguirre Hiraoka, Ali Bohrer, Gina Cardazone, Deb Chong, Marianne Cooper, Christianne Corbett, Katie DiClemente, Briana Edwards, Sarah Ferreiro Hand, Madelyn Flores, Archana Gilravi, Sammy Goldstein, Margot Heron, Ryan Hutson, Katrina Jones, Julia Kung, Sonia Mahajan, Jordan Miller-Surratt, Mary Noble-Tolla, Sara Radjenovic, Stephanie Solove Chou, Emma Spitzer, Taylor Steinbeck, Rachel Thomas, Nikki Tucker, Kate Urban, Emma Williams-Baron, Jemma York
McKinsey & Company report authors and contributors:
Carolyn Chu, Erin Friedlander Blank, Dom Furlong, James Gannon, Worth Gentry, Sanchika Gupta, Anne Marie Hawley, Lea Herzberg, Isabelle Hughes, Alexis Krivkovich, Sophia LaRoche, Michelle Lee, Wei Wei Liu, Jillian Mazon, Margret-Ann Natsis, Hilary Nguyen, Bevan Pearson, Ishanaa Rambachan, Nicole Robinson, Maria Laura Saenz Caviedes, Jenna Scalmanini, Katie Shi, Julia Sun, Lynn Takeshita, Alice Tang, Erica Tashma, Monne Williams, Lareina Yee, Kinsey Yost
McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org would like to thank the 333 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 equality.
We appreciate the continued help of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME-MEC), Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA), The Equity Collaborative, Expanding Equity, Institutional Limited Partners Association (ILPA), International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), ISSA Hygieia Network, Massachusetts High Technology Council (MHTC), The Press Forward, The SEMI Foundation, Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF), and Women’s Network in Electronic Transactions (WNET), in convening participants in their respective industries.
We would like to thank IntelliSurvey for their help in conducting the surveys for this study and Getty Images for providing the photography from the Lean In Collection used in this report and website.
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