Most people don’t change, or willingly go along with change, because the change is “the right thing to do.” They do it if there is an important reason to change. Businesses don’t change their corporate cultures so that they retain women because doing so is nice for women. They do it if there is a compelling business reason to do so. The bottom line reasons to achieve gender diversity in leadership are exactly that—compelling.
Women leave their jobs at a higher rate than men. This is confirmed by data from the Bureau of Labor and by private research. There are three reasons business leaders need to understand why women leave. All are reasons to engage women so they’ll stay:
1. Turnover has a significant cost—estimates range between 50 and 200% of annual salary (plus negative impact on morale and performance).
2. Fully half of the total workforce and of the hiring pool (more than half of the educated hiring pool) is female—so the group at greatest risk of leaving is large.
3. Gender diversity in leadership has been correlated with higher returns (see studies by Catalyst and McKinsey); if you are losing women, you are probably losing the upside of gender diversity.