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  • Robin Rosenberg

Women In the Workplace: The 2022 Lean In Report


The new Lean in/McKinsey Women in the Workplace Report is out. It surveyed over 40,000 employees in 333 organizations. Although there aren’t many surprises, taken as a whole, the report illuminates several themes.


Female Leaders

The great resignation led companies to be more motivated to hold on to female leaders. This makes sense for two reasons. One, is to retain talented leaders when unprecedented numbers are resigning. The other is an effort to be inclusive and bulk up the pipelines.


Despite this, female leaders were less motivated to stay in their jobs than were male leaders. Although both women and men resigned in large numbers, women proportionately left their jobs more than did men. This seems to have been the case for two main reasons. First, women were more likely to reporting hitting a glass ceiling (they went as high up the ladder as they thought they could go) Second, they left to escape chronic disrespect and microaggressions. I’ll come back to microaggressions and disrespect in a bit, but know that here I’m talking about female leaders.


The report also indicated pipeline issues at the beginning of the leadership pipeline—the broken rung problem: women are less likely to be promoted to the first rung on the managerial ladder, which then prevents fewer women from achieving leadership and director roles.


Take home message: women are still underrepresented in managerial and leadership positions.


Female Experience with Work

Interestingly, remote work has allowed women to feel less negatively impacted by disrespectful behavior and microaggressions. The negative interactions are still there, but the physical distance from them either lessens their impact, or allows women to take time to re-center themselves in private—and not have to pretend everything is fine. We know that having to pretend required a significant amount of mental and emotional energy and mental and physical health.


In technical teams, it’s not a great situation. 32% of women in technical and engineering roles report they are often the only woman in the “room” at work. Underrepresentation is work for women or color, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities.


Women are often more successful and created inclusive and respectful work environments, but 40% of women leaders say their DEI work isn’t acknowledged at all in performance reviews.


More women are burned out than are men (42% compared to 31%).. Women report being overworked and under-recognized, and want a different culture of work. Women of color, in particular, are less likely to report managerial support for their professional development.


Women of color, particularly Asian American and Latina women, are too often asked where they are “really from?” LGBTQ+ women and women with disabilities are too often asked to “smile more.”


Call to Action

The report makes a variety of recommendations. One is to provide employees with more autonomy about flexible working parameters (e.g., hybrid, remote). Train managers and leaders about how to promote inclusion and respectful behavior. Then hold managers accountable and reward those who excel at inclusion and promoting diversity.


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