The Real Reason Women Are Leaving Your Company

Let’s get this out of the way: The real reason women are leaving your company (and a myriad of others around the world) is not just because they are moms having babies.

Or lack ambition.

In fact, research from the Pew Research Center shows that 57 percent of women surveyed consider ambition to be an essential trait for a leader; while a fully 63 percent of Millennial women and 61 percent of Gen X have the same opinion.

And yet, they are leaving.

As documented in LeanIn’s Women in the Workplace 2017, 17 percent of women are leaving their jobs in mid-career, which, for a company of 500, represent a loss of 85 employees. Those numbers should concern us all.

As I wrote in my book, #WomenAdvance, women hold 85% of the buying power globally, make up over 50 percent of the workforce, and there are three times as many female-owned start-ups as male-owned. Yet, there are still barriers to women who want to rise to the top of today’s most successful corporations.

So, what’s going on?

A survey published by ICEDR finds that women around age 30 cite pay, lack of learning and development, and a shortage of meaningful work as the primary reasons they leave organizations. Not motherhood.

I hear other reasons too, in my women advancement coaching programs. The participants describe having to work harder to get promoted–and fear having to work harder at their job once promoted.

But what they need to do is to work smarter not harder.

And, it’s not that they are less ambitious than men are. In fact, according to a survey from Accenture, “…moms who return to work after having a child are just as ambitious as women without kids–or, in some cases, even more ambitious,” states Maricar Santos, writing for Working Mother.

Women are leaving your company mid-career because they are being paid less, they are not being offered development opportunities to help them move ahead, and they don’t find the work meaningful enough to sustain them. They leave, looking for something better.

Here’s what I would tell you

Understand that, while women may express more comfort in an individual contributor role, they may also be interested in a management or leadership role. Make sure your company offers the right tools for new managers, so it’s not so daunting. And make sure their managers know how to coach them on learning new skills and find the right career path.

Understand that the atmosphere at work might not feel good. If your leadership team is male-dominated, and those males aren’t used to including women, a woman simply may not feel comfortable in the organization as she progresses up the ladder. You may need to consciously develop a strategy to help create more diverse management and leadership teams.

There are companies out there who are doing precisely that. The Miller Heiman Group, for example, has made a significant investment in gender diversity and equality by recently promoting/hiring three executives to the C-Suite. Why is it so significant? Because promoting these women supports diversity and inclusion at the top and sets the example for the whole company.

And finally, you may not necessarily have a hostile environment or an overt discrimination problem, but you may have differences in communications styles. Men and women communicate differently, and this can cause misunderstanding, downtime, and hurt productivity.

You may be able to help by mentoring the men in your organization and showing them how to communicate with women more effectively. If men can start understanding women and move in their direction, too, it’s not such an energy suck.

Women are excited to contribute to your workforce, they work hard, and will be excellent advocates if your company gets it right. Promote diversity. Support inclusion. Win!

A version of this post was first published on Inc.com 

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3 Ways to Know Who You Are as a Global Leader

International Leadership

No matter if you lead in Tokyo, Paris, Moscow, New York, Buenos Aires or Sydney, these are critical questions to answer if you want to make a difference as a leader and stand for something:

1. Who are you as a leader?

2. What is your legacy?

3. What is your impact?

Paul N. Larsen, author of Find Your Voice as a Leader, shared his thoughts on the answers to these questions in this post.

To read the complete article, please click here.

International Leadership

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6 Ways to Make Business Personal — and Why You Should

I often write about differences across cultures but a conversation with Susan Fowler, author of Why Motivation Doesn’t Work and What Does, whose work is to share the science of motivation and the tools for applying it, reminded me that we all share some fundamental commonalities. We want to spend time with family or friends, have fun, and learn or accomplish new things.

Here are 3 ways Susan believes leaders can do a better job of making business personal:

  • They need to help people find meaning in their work.
  • They need to promote values-based behavior.
  • They need to remind people how their work contributes to a greater good.

To read the complete article, including my three additions to Susan’s points, please click here.

Interpersonal Communication

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The Real Reason Why Women Don’t Make it to the C-Suite

Gender Equity

My work with female leaders over the last eight years has revealed that the advancement of women in the workplace is no simple issue. I’ve interviewed more than a hundred female executives, held workshops for more than a thousand, and individually coached many more. These women are based all over the world and have diverse cultural backgrounds.

When I’ve seen women step back from their jobs, go part-time, and even say they’re happy to be where they are, I always question it. Bonnie Marcus, author of The Politics of Promotion, conducted a study, Lost Leaders in the Pipeline (with co-author Lisa Mainiero) that found women do have strong ambition. In fact, in her survey of 615 professional women, 74 percent self-identified as very/extremely ambitious.

Yet, Bonnie says, “Their ambition is not nurtured in the workplace and diminishes mid-career after five to ten years. The assumption has always been that women lack ambition or leave for family reasons, but that’s not necessarily the case. Research shows that more women would remain in the workforce if they had programs and support that enabled them to be successful over the course of their careers. ”

To read my conversation with Bonnie about what companies can do to improve the numbers of women in the C-Suite, please click here to read the entire article!

Gender Equity

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4 Ways to Deal With Difficult Personalities

Business Communication

The other day, I was chatting with Dr. Nate Regier, author of Conflict without Casualties, and I was reminded of a popular debate I had while studying intercultural relations twenty years ago–is our behavior caused by outside influence or genetic make-up? That is, are our personalities a product of nature or nurture?

Continuing our month’s theme of speaking with thought leaders in the consulting space who also work in global and/or cross-cultural contexts about leadership best practices, I explored this question with Nate.

But here are four ways you can reveal the junction when in a difficult conversation or conflict.

1. Consider the cultural norms and values within a particular country context.

2. Consider a person’s individual personality traits.

3. In situations of conflict, seek first to understand the cultural and personality needs, then explore what “content” disagreement still exists.

4. Understand that you may need to adapt your style of communication and motivation to that person’s preference.

 

To read more of our conversation, please click here to read the entire article!

 

Business Communication

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3 Powerful Acts Leaders Drastically Underestimate

Leadership Behaviors

In working around the globe, the one common thread I’ve noticed in organizations is their different values and approaches to hierarchy.

When I spoke with Bill Treasurer, author of the upcoming A Leadership Kick in the Ass, we discussed the drastically undervalued concept of caring:

 

In Steven M.R. Covey’s bestselling book Speed of Trust, he makes the case for trust as a critical, highly relevant, performance multiplier. And according to Covey, “The best motive in building trust is genuinely caring about people.”

Caring is of utmost importance as a leader. It builds trust between you and the people you manage. Thus, leaders need to ask their employees about their personal lives and get to know them as human beings. In short, they need to care.

Bill shared with me a story of a leader at a construction company who came down hard on his team whenever there was a safety violation. He would fire those who were responsible.

The leader’s intent was to make the company safer and to show safety was of utmost importance. But the unintended consequence was the complete opposite. It created an atmosphere of distrust and made people feel they needed to hide near misses.

To address the issue, the company underwent a cultural transformation–when there was a safety breach, instead of the leadership asking, “Who did this?”, they asked, “What went wrong and how do we fix it?” This created an atmosphere of trust where people felt comfortable outing mistakes. And the result was a safer work environment–what the leader wanted all along.

To learn about the other two areas, please click here to read the entire article!

 

Leadership Behaviors

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Don’t Let These Cultural Differences Derail Your Project

Cultural Differences

In today’s globalized business world, there’s a lot of focus on diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias. And there should be. But little attention is being paid to cultural awareness and this a huge mistake.

One area of cultural diversity for you to be aware of that can cause challenges is process-oriented vs results-oriented:

The way we set goals and work to achieve them differs depending on culture.

If a culture is process-oriented, that means they have a carefully thought out plan in place and understand how they are going to achieve the goal before they start moving towards it. If a culture is results-oriented, the plan or even the results may change as they work to achieve them–which is okay because it is all part of a greater vision.

Cultures such as American or Israeli are more results-oriented whereas cultures such as German or Russian are more process-oriented. There are pros and cons to both.

Being a results-oriented business could get results faster but not to the level of quality of a process-oriented organization.

On the flip side, being process-oriented may be more thorough and higher quality, but slower in execution than a results-oriented organization.

To learn about the other two areas, please click here to read the entire article!

 

Cultural Differences

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4 Ways to Bring Spirituality into Business

Work Life Balance

Spirituality and business. These two words seem to be at odds with one another but I want to make the argument that they shouldn’t be.

One way I’ve learned to bring my spiritual self to the workplace is to look at things positively.

Negative thoughts are a cancer and they only bring pain and drain energy. Banish them. Use positive words when talking and if something has gone wrong, analyze what it was and move forward. No one is perfect. Learn to let go of negativity. (Or as my father calls it “stop awfulizing” about things.)

To learn about the other three strategies, please click here to read the entire article!

 

Work Life Balance

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5 Secrets to Acing Your Global Presentation

Public Speaking

Presentations can be stressful and awkward. Throw in presenting to audiences from diverse cultural backgrounds and languages, and the venture is that much more challenging.

One strategy to ace your global presentation is to share a story:

Bring in family and personal experiences that show what you care about and what values you have. This helps humanize you and connect you with the audience. It’s even better if you can discuss scary or surprising details you were able to overcome. These tales are not only interesting; they can be inspiring to your audience.

To learn about the other four strategies, please click here to read the entire article!

 

Public Speaking

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8 Steps to Expand Your Customer Base Globally

Global Business

With more than 70 percent of the world’s purchasing and more than 95 percent of the world’s consumers outside the U.S, going global is worth the risk.

Still, the allure of the unknown is littered with traps that can take down an organization if it isn’t careful. When I expanded to Germany, I tapped into my current clients with offices abroad who made key introductions that allowed me to lay a foundation internationally.

Leveraging the contacts and experiences I already had was an important step in growth.

Another way to expand your customer base globally is to do your homework:

Before doing anything, you need to assess the market potential in the particular areas of the world that you’re interested in expanding to. So, talk to people who have done it before and learn from their mistakes.

Reach out to ex-patriates who have spent time in those countries and ask about their challenges. Then carve out what customer base makes sense for you logistically and culturally.

To learn about the other seven steps, please click here to read the entire article!

 

Global Business

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