There’s a major workplace shift happening in businesses nationwide as women switch jobs in unprecedented numbers, according to a new report published by McKinsey in partnership with LeanIn.org. In what’s been coined the “Great Breakup,” women are relocating to companies that more align with their values – and the phenomenon is shedding light on the workplace dynamics that are still preventing women from moving up the career ladder. 

McKinsey’s annual Women in the Workplace report reveals that in 2022, “women leaders are switching jobs at the highest rates we’ve ever seen – and at higher rates than men in leadership.” The shift could lead to serious consequences for companies looking to build a diverse and equitable workplace, given the fact that there are already too few women leaders in management. 

That’s because women have already been underrepresented in leadership for years due to systemic biases like the “broken rung,” which denotes how women are prevented from moving up the ranks at the very first step to manager. McKinsey found the “broken rung” to be unfixed in 2022 for the eighth consecutive year with “only 87 women… promoted” for “every 100 men who are promoted from entry-level roles to manager positions.” The early barrier means that women are never able to catch up to men in senior leadership.

Managing Partner Jodi Detjen’s 2021 research, “Masculinity and Leadership Inequities,” found that masculine cultural norms – such as work being prioritized at the expense of other aspects of life, and an attitude of competition rather than collaboration –  implicitly create barriers against women’s career ascension not by individual masculine identities, but by organizational culture and systems. 

Biases show up throughout a company’s pipeline development, from the roles employees are offered to how they are evaluated. To tackle these biases and the problem of “the broken rung,” your organization will need to use data to first understand the factors creating disparities. Once you’ve got an objective perspective on how your organization is doing, you’ll test the effectiveness of your solutions.

Orange Grove Consulting helps organizations examine their promotion pipeline through assessments. To learn more about how we can help you assess your developmental opportunities and take action to champion DEI in the midst of the “Great Breakup,” check out our next blog in two weeks. 

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