There is no doubt that attracting great female talent to your organisation is beneficial to your company. Data shows that the higher the representation of women in positions of senior management, the more a company outperforms its competitors. Here’s the proof:
- Catalyst puts this outperformance at 35% higher ROE
- Ellison and Mullin found that the gender diversity of an office improves office performance significantly, with a revenue gain of 41%
- McKinsey found that for every 10% increase in gender diversity in companies in the UK, EBIT rose by 3.5%
We know how to attract female talent – provide flexible working arrangements; mentoring programs; lateral recruitment; sponsorship; female talent programs; quotas and more.
But once you’ve got her, how do you keep her?
The following are reasons why organisations lose their female talent:
1. They don’t understand who she is
You need a very clear understanding of her profile – not just her capability at work.
If she is in your talent pool, she’s worked hard to get there. She’s talented, driven, a self starter and highly motivated. She operates best when she feels ‘in control’. She is most likely in her 30’s-40s, which also means, according to ABS data, that if she plans to become a parent then this is when she is having her children. Having children adds a level of complexity to her life. Up until now she has been able to focus 100% on growing her stellar career, but now she has competing demands.
2. They don’t understand her challenges
Regardless of whether it is right or wrong or fair or not, she is likely to take on the lion’s share of responsibilities at home.
She will manage the work/ life ‘juggle’ brilliantly for a period of time because she has worked hard to get here. However, she has so many balls in the air that the juggle is becoming increasingly hard to sustain.
She will start to question her ability to ‘have it all’. She feels stressed, overwhelmed and guilty about not being 100% focussed on her job or on her family responsibilities. She worries that she can’t have success both at work and at home. She is losing confidence. She is exhausted. She is considering opting out. In the very least, she is looking to tread water and not seek promotion to the highest levels of your organisation for fear of further disrupting her family life.
But, she won’t actually share any of this with you. She will absolutely not let her guard down because she doesn’t want to be judged as not coping, as not managing, as not being deserving of her status as talent.
The first you will hear about her ‘struggle with the juggle’ is when she hands in her resignation.
3. They don’t address her challenges
There is more to female talent retention than offering flexibility, talent programs or even pay equity.
You need to demonstrate to your female talent, and to the talent in the market, that you understand the challenges she faces. You need to look beyond traditional policies and programs to provide her with greater control over her time both at work and outside work. You need to provide her with solutions to help her better manage the ‘juggle’.
Unless your organisation understands the profile of your female talent; understands what is really keeping her awake at night; and then puts in place specific programs to help her better manage all aspects of her life, you will lose her.
Time Stylers founder Kate Christie is a time management specialist, speaker and the author of best selling book, Me Time – The Professional Woman’s Guide to Finding 30 Guilt-Free Hours a Month, which walks readers through a proven 5 step process to find and harness lost time. Connect with Kate to have her speak at your next event or to help you and your team improve your productivity.