HOW TO STOP WOMEN FROM LEAVING YOUR WORKPLACE

By Josephine Victoria Yam, J.D., LLM.

2019 March 26

Read time: 2 minutes

“We are so focused on fixing the leaky pipeline of senior female leaders in our company, ” said the HR Head of a multinational company to me at a recent meeting. “Our company’s talent recruitment efforts are working because we have gender parity at the entry and mid-levels. But as you go higher up the ladder, you will notice that the number of women suddenly declines.”

This is a common refrain we hear all the time. But what gives?

According to a study by the International Consortium for Executive Development Research (ICEDR), HR leaders believe that women leave the workplace because of family demands or lack of workplace flexibility.

But when women were asked why they left, they provided a totally different answer. The reason was neither motherhood nor flexibility. Surprise! It was compensation. Yup, you read it right. Fair compensation (or the lack thereof) is the primary reason that influence women to leave their employers.

In a Harvard Business Review article, author Christie Arscott noted that women actually care about pay. In fact, it’s the top reason why they leave a company. They find a higher paying job elsewhere. This happens when women realize that they're paid a lower salary than their male peers for the very same job.

The reasons why women are paid a lower salary are well-documented. In her New York Times article author Tara Seigel Bernard named the usual suspects that cause the yawning pay gap:

 
Women are hired at lower salaries level than their male peers because they’re less likely to work the longest hours.
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Women get lower pay because they sometimes take more leaves of absence or reduced work schedules due to family obligations.
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Women are less inclined to ask for a raise because they’re less likeable when they do so.
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So what can you do to stop women from leaving your workplace? Here are three suggestions:

 
Consider pay and compensation fairness as part of your company’s talent retention strategies. Don’t assume that the only way to keep female talent is to give them flexible hours or work-life balance.
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Publish everyone’s pay. A study noted that when employers make salaries transparent, the gender pay gap disappears.
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Teach women how to negotiate. According to Linda Babcock, a Carnegie Mellon University professor, only 12.5% of women ask for more money when they receive a job offer. Compare that to 51.5 % of men who do. Isn't that sad?
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By ensuring fair compensation for all employees, your company can fix the leaky pipeline of senior female leaders. And in doing so, it moves closer to eventually winning the fierce war for top talent.

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