The 20th Century has witnessed a rapid change in the status and role of women, who have gradually acquired same level of education and same jobs with comparable ambitions. However corporate systems and work ambiance got mostly designed by men whose spouses were mostly homemakers. As a result the culture of the organizations reflects and perpetuates work ethics and expectation as designed to be suited to them. This makes workplaces far more conducive for men rather than women.
As a result, we see a global phenomenon of women leaving th workforce midway. The terminology used to describe this (women leaving corporate careers mid way) is called ‘Off Ramping’ and as they join back , it is termed as ‘On Ramping’.
‘Off ramping’, is a globally visible and the impact is faced by organizations with their women in the workforce. Each year companies reach out to colleges and post graduate institutes to recruit fresh talent. With no conscious or unconscious bias in their recruitment strategy , one finds nearly 50:50 mix of men and women at the entry level or more depending on the kind of industry and by the time we assess the top 2 levels of the organization, it dwindles to less than 15% or in some industry’s even less than 10% . At the board level this is less than 5%.
So what could be causing this drain out of female talent from organizations? Going through various studies conducted across the globe the key pointers assimilated are:
1. Disproportionate responsibilities at the home front
2. Role models
a. Not too many role models at work place or at home
b. ‘Super models’ at work place who cannot be related to ( CXO level )
3. Being caught up in the traditional role of a women as a mother , daughter and daughter in law and expectations thereof leading to
- lower career /individual aspirations
- guilt while at work
4. Financial adequacy of their spouses or families
5. Poor choice of flexi working options at work place and stigma attached to it
The 6th pointer came out while going thru numerous ‘exit forms’ of women, participating in exit interviews, reaching out to large groups of women with interrupted careers. It was the lack of seeking out options other than quitting and a partner to help them in that juncture.
However when we talk to couple of real life case studies ( later elaborated in this paper), who came very close to leaving but still stayed on , one sees a significant role of coaching conversations which came to their rescue in the form of ‘shifting their paradigm’ and helping them to explore non-standard solutions which will make them stay on.
Could this be an invisible cause of women quitting. Could the coaching conversation at this juncture actually be the answer to this otherwise brain drain happening all across the world ?