Corporate leaders often misjudge the motivations of female employees, with the majority expecting that women in their 30s would leave a company to start a family, or because of their need for more flexibility. But new research shows that both men and women will leave a company because they want to be paid more.
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, author Christie Hunter Arscott notes a global study that finds for women in their 30s, 65 percent will say the reason they are leaving a job is to go to a job that pays them a higher wage. The lowest percentage, or 54 percent, say the reason they leave a job is to start a family.
For men, 65 percent will leave a job because there is not enough opportunity, while 56 percent reported leaving because they got a job with a higher salary. Fifty percent said they left a job because the work was not as meaningful or interesting as they need it to be. The lowest percentage, or 41 percent of men, reported leaving a job because they do not fit in well with the team.
“Gender appears to have little impact on an individual’s reasons for leaving an organization,” Arscott writes. “This is good news for organizational leaders. By implementing strategies and programs informed by the needs and desires of women, leaders will simultaneously be addressing what matters most to broader talent pools, men included. There is less of a need to segment and complicate talent strategies by gender. Instead, there is the opportunity to create broad impact through strategies that address the desires of both mid-career women and men.”
Compensation is not the only reason women leave a job in their 30s. But it is connected to promotion. Many women report they are overlooked for advancement and cannot rise to leadership positions. Writing about the Deloitte 2016 Millennial Survey for US News & World Report, Vicki Salemi notes that 48 percent of women surveyed said they are overlooked for promotions.
“’While it’s disappointing to hear that women don’t feel valued, it’s more reason to carefully vet employers during the interview process,’ says Ellyn J. Shook, chief leadership and human resources officer at Accenture, a global professional services company. ‘The top three things female millennials are looking for from their employers are opportunities for career progression, competitive wages and flexible work arrangements,’ Shook says.”
For women in the workplace, networking, receiving mentorship and understanding their value to the company can aid in retention. And understanding the keys to talent retention is key for any employer.
One not so popular option for women in their 30s leaving a workplace is to go back to school to get an MBA. The percentage of female enrollment in the country’s business schools has remained steady at 32 percent for the last 10 years, despite the recent uptick in enrollment of women in law and medical schools, according to Bloomberg Business.
President Barack Obama called 150 leaders of the top 47 business schools in this country to a summit in August at The White House to address this gender inequity in business education.
Author Natalie Kitroeff writes, “Elite B-schools typically prefer that applicants have about five years of work experience, which means the average MBA student is 30 years old at graduation, Bloomberg data show. Women in their late 20s who think they’ll want to have children at some point may feel they’d do better racking up career experience than taking two years off for business school.”
Some do argue that women do not want to take off time to get a second degree when these years could be used to further a career before starting a family. But those could be assumptions as well as other factors contribute to women not eager to earn an MBA.
“Women may also have trouble seeing themselves at business school because the classes are overwhelmingly led by male professors. The pledge signed by the 47 schools in August also committed them to try to boost the number of women instructors,” Kitroeff writes.
According to Betsey Stevenson, a University of Michigan economist who served on President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, “If (business schools) want to continue to be a relevant part of the training in the 21st century, they are going to have to make changes that will make them more attractive to women.”
It isn’t just women in their 30s in the workplace that employers need to address. Older women in the workforce who may have returned after a break make up a rapidly growing segment of business leaders. According to Career Partners International, women older than 55 are the fastest growing segment of employees in Australia, and around the world. Older women add tremendous value to the workplace and to the economy.
“Businesses benefit because of sustained job performance, high motivation levels, high reliability, improved staff retention, and the accumulation of experience, knowledge, and skills over working lives. Gender diversity research indicates businesses can experience a range of benefits from a workforce that is inclusive of women, including reducing attrition; enhancing innovation, group performance, access to target markets and financial performance; and minimizing legal and reputational risks.”