McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org “Women in the Workplace Report” Shows – 1 in 4 Women Are Considering Leaving the Workforce or Downshifting Their Careers Due to Covid-19

 McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org released the annual Women in the Workplace report, the largest study of its kind. After six years of slow but measurable progress in the representation of women in corporate America, 1 in 4 women are now considering leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers due to Covid-19. In a single year, this would wipe out all of the hard-earned gains we’ve seen for women in management—and unwind years of progress toward gender diversity.

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The report is based on data and insights from 317 companies employing more than 12 million people, along with survey responses from more than 40,000 individual employees. It urges companies to act immediately to avert this potential crisis and includes recommendations for addressing the feelings of burnout and being “always on” for work that many employees are grappling with right now.

“If we had a panic button, we’d be hitting it,” said Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and co-founder of LeanIn.Org. “Leaders must act fast or risk losing millions of women from the workforce and setting gender diversity back years.”

Kevin Sneader, global managing partner at McKinsey & Company, agrees. “This crisis for women is not going away, but the solutions are within reach,” said Sneader. “Companies need to adapt their strategies to more fully support women’s lives amidst a new world of work.”

Covid-19 has been hugely disruptive for all employees. The new report also highlights the effects of the pandemic on women, including the distinct challenges for mothers, women in senior leadership, and Black women.

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Working mothers are deeply concerned about how Covid-19 will impact their careers. They are more than three times as likely as fathers to be managing most of their family’s housework and caregiving during the pandemic—and twice as likely to worry that their performance will be judged negatively due to their caregiving responsibilities. They are also far more likely to feel uncomfortable sharing work-life challenges with colleagues—or that they’ve got children at home.

Senior-level women are juggling huge demands both at work and at home. Senior-level women are more likely than women at other levels to be mothers. Senior-level women are also more likely to be in dual career couples than senior-level men, which means they are trying to balance work and home without the extra support that a partner who doesn’t work often provides. And they are almost twice as likely as women at other levels to often be the only or one of the only women in the room, which often comes with heightened scrutiny, such as needing to provide additional evidence of their competence. Likely because of these factors, senior-level women are more likely than senior-level men to feel “always on” and under pressure to work more. They are also 1.5 times as likely to think about leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers—and almost 3 in 4 cite burnout as a primary reason.

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