Women leaders are switching jobs at the highest rate as “the broken rung” stalls promotions

Thursday, March 9, 2023 by Snacks

“The Great Breakup” is here… and it’s not a new rom-com. A recent McKinsey study says women leaders are leaving their companies at the highest rate ever as they demand more from their workplaces. Obstacles to getting promoted, pay gaps, and office microaggressions are all contributing to departures. Female leaders are 2X as likely as male leaders to be mistaken for someone in a junior position. And in the US women are paid 17% less than men. So while women have made major strides in the past century, leadership gaps remain:

  • Two steps ahead: For the first time in history, female CEOs run more than a tenth of Fortune 500 companies, including names like GM, Oracle, Walgreens, and AMD.
  • Still four steps back: Only one in five C-suite execs is a woman, and just one in 20 is a woman of color. Men also still make up the vast majority of S&P 500 board seats, despite the fact that companies with more women leaders tend to outperform.

Two weeks’ notice… Despite some gains over the past eight years, women are still underrepresented at each level on the corporate ladder. Men are more likely to be promoted from entry to management positions — a problem known as “the broken rung” — making it harder for women to climb the ranks. Only 87 women are promoted to managerial positions for every 100 men, and it’s lower for women of color.


It’s a self-feeding cycle… until the broken rung is fixed. When there are fewer women in top positions, women are less likely to have the same advancement opportunities as their male counterparts. Now companies risk losing the relatively few women leaders they have left — and consequently could risk losing the next generation of leaders.

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