The untapped resource in the workforce
Women are an integral part of our workforce. But due to changes in the labor market, one in three women are now contemplating downsizing their careers or leaving the workforce entirely.
Companies are at risk of losing current and future women in leadership and unwinding
years of progress towards gender diversity.
Highly qualified, but overlooked
Studies show that companies benefit from women in leadership roles, often bringing greater profitability and lower turnover rates. Even so, they are often constrained by what’s termed the "broken rung.”
Put simply, while men move up the ladder, women are often overlooked for promotion opportunities, leading to fewer women holding positions in higher levels of leadership. Representation is even less for women belonging to underrepresented groups.
For those women who do make it into leadership roles, burnout comes quickly.
From 2020 to 2021, the number of women leaders with intent to stay at their jobs dropped by 18 points
For working women who often also carry the weight of family responsibilities at home, the combination is unsustainable, resulting often in complete burnout.
Women make up the majority of job losses from the pandemic
In February 2020, unemployment rates were fairly equal between men and women. However, there’s been a large shift in unemployment since then — and women have been affected disproportionately, all the more so for women of color.
Here’s a look at peak unemployment rates in 2020:
Comparably, the unemployment rate peaked at 13% for men in 2020.
Women carry the majority of family responsibilities
Women bear the brunt of caregiving, including hours of work in managing family needs. These responsibilities can affect their ability to stay or advance in their career.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 40% of mothers (compared to 27% of fathers) have added three or more hours of caregiving each day.
With women carrying more of the caregiving load, men earning more than women for comparable jobs and inadequate child care options, it often makes more financial sense for women to leave the workforce.
Why the numbers matter
With companies struggling to recruit, train and retain skilled workers, what
matters to women matters to the entire C-Suite.
By prioritizing a path for women to advance — with the training and education to help them succeed — organizations are investing in the long-term health of their company.
Not doing so leaves companies vulnerable to competitors that
are proactively addressing these issues.
Bringing more women into the fabric of your company can result in statistically significant improvements across revenue, turnover and innovation.
Companies in the leading quartile for gender diversity on leadership are 21% more likely to outperform the national average
Technology companies led by women achieve 35% higher ROI than
led by men
It’s time to step up
The challenges for today’s women present an opportunity for companies to take meaningful action through workforce education, one of the strongest tools to attract and retain top talent — with every level of education and upskilling yielding higher wages for workers.
Employees with a bachelor's degree make, on average, 67% more than those with a high school diploma
Get the guide
Download our in-depth guide to discover how you can leverage education to support a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace.
Ready to learn more about how your organization can support women in the workforce?
McKinsey & Company, LeanIn.org 2021. Qualtrics 2022. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020. Fortune 2021. Women Deliver. Forbes 2019. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020.
Between responsibilities of work and home, employees have little available time. A successful education program must offer the flexibility to fit into the spaces learners have, whatever hour or day.
For many, the high cost of education keeps degrees out of reach. By providing educational opportunities, companies benefit from a better-educated, more diverse workforce across their entire system.
Specific paths for career advancement
By working with women to chart their career paths, companies are actively repairing the broken rungs of their organization, filling employment gaps and preparing women to rise toward leadership positions.
Recent data from McKinsey shows that women of color experience a 75% drop in representation from entry level to C-suite.
Representation by corporate role, by gender and race, 2021, % of employees
Women of color
Men of color
Senior Vice President
Senior Manager/ Director
Educational opportunities and higher wages make a compelling case for women to stay in the workforce. Their improved skills and knowledge also offer an immediate benefit to employers, while providing women with a clear path for career advancement and leadership. For the highest impact, these opportunities should offer:
Women: The untapped resource in the workforce
Challenges facing women in today’s workforce and how employers can take action.
As hybrid work models become the standard, the need for new technologies and the skills required to support a digital workspace continues to rise. While this presents a significant opportunity within the technology industry, the persistent gender inequality that exists still needs to be addressed.