Women in the Workforce Report: Key Findings

November 11, 2022

Many of McKinsey’s findings in its 2022 Women in the Workforce Report echo those of previous reports. Women are still underrepresented in technical roles, at the C-suite and in leadership roles, and women still face a broken rung which hinders their promotion to manager. 

Key Finding: Women Leaders Are Leaving At Concerningly High Rates

There is one notable new trend in McKinsey’s 2022 report: Women leaders are leaving companies at a higher rate than we’ve seen in recent years. In fact, for every woman director being promoted to the next level, two women directors are leaving. 

The rate at which women in leadership are leaving their companies compared to men has also increased. This is almost certainly linked to pandemic, since women and men leaders were leaving at almost the same rate in 2020. 

Reasons Cited By The Women Leaders Who Are Leaving

Three major reasons cited by women leaders for leaving were:

1) Women face higher barriers to promotion than men. 

There has long been a recognized double-standard for women, where they need to be both likeable and skilled to get promoted. (While men just need to be skilled.) McKinsey’s report noted that women are (still) 2 x more likely to be mistaken for someone more junior. This is indicative of a more pervasive problem:

“[Women] are far more likely than men leaders to have colleagues question their judgment or imply that they aren’t qualified for their jobs.” 

We’ve experienced this ourselves at CGL. We have been referred to as ‘mommy-law’, as if our two co-founders being mothers somehow makes them less qualified or somehow diminishes their extensive experience and incredible talent.

These perceptions are clearly based on bias, not any kind of fact. But they are still hurting women. And it is so important that this changes – starting now. (If you’re unsure where to start, look into bias training and better promotion policies. 

2) Women leaders do more work that goes un- or under-recognized. 

McKinsey’s report comments on the fact that women leaders do more work than their male counterparts on work that supports employee well-being as well as diversity and inclusion. It also notes that this work largely goes unrecognized by leaders, making it harder for women to advance and more likely they will be burned out. 

While McKinsey comments on the under-recognition of the work women do at the leadership level, it’s likely this trend exists at all levels. Women are more likely to be expected to clean up after others in the office. They’re also more likely to be delegated lower quality work. 

If your company truly values its women, it will:

  • Start putting measures in place to stop women being expected to do lower quality work; AND
  • Stop ignoring the incredibly important Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work women do by putting formal recognition measures in place and tying the work to promotions and bonuses. 

3) Women leaders want a better work culture.  

McKinsey says that better work culture for women leaders means flexibility (including the ability to work remotely) and better employee wellbeing and DEI. It notes that 49% of women consider flexibility as one of the top three factors when deciding whether to join or stay with a company. The report also says 

We’re going to dig deeper into the takeaways and lessons for businesses in next week’s newsletter. If you’d like to read more of our resources on these topics, check out: 

The Perks of Employee Promotion Policies

Supporting DEI and Worker Health During The Great Reshuffle

5 Tips To Overcome Sexism In The Workplace

Embedding Workplace Policies That Promote Diversity


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