MCR Episode 44
Hey Rebels and Happy Thanksgiving. I recorded this episode earlier in the month but it’s being aired today on Turkey Day and if you’re tuning in let me first say thank you and secondly, I hope you’re having an amazing time with your family and loved ones today. Also, if you’re in the podcast listening mood, check out one of my earlier podcasts I did on developing the practice of gratitude, particularly as we’re on the cusp of heading into a new year.
Today, however, I want to talk about the women and underrepresented women leaders in the workplace as it relates to quiet quitting, the great breakup, and the findings in the latest McKinsey Report, Women in the Workplace 2022.
Before we get started I think it’s always important to ensure we’re talking about the same thing, so let’s first define what we’re talking about.
A few months ago, in the late summer the term quiet quitting hit social media and went viral. It’s been defined as doing the minimum requirements of one's job and putting in no time, effort, or enthusiasm than absolutely necessary. They're still there collecting a paycheck, but doing no more than required.
Now when I first heard about quiet quitting I wasn’t surprised by it because frankly if you’re a midlife career professional, you've probably “quiet quitted” a few jobs in your lifetime. I know I have. So for me it wasn’t a new phenomena but it’s nice that we have language to describe what people have been doing for years. In fact, there are some that would just call it working because they’ve never desired to do more than what was absolutely necessary to get the job done. We know those people; hell we’ve worked with those people and have usually complained about how we end up doing more work because of how little they’re doing, but I’ll save that conversation for another episode.
The question that quiet quitting has raised, however, is “why?” Why are people choosing to do the minimum required? While it’s certainly not the most advantageous strategy for promotion or advancement opportunities, why are people willing to risk it. I don’t think it’s a surprise when I say there are basically one of two factors at play here: (1) they don’t love what they’re doing and are there simple to get a paycheck or (2) the organization isn’t fostering an environment of inclusion and engagement to inspire their people to give more or even stay.
While the focus of many articles has been on the first point, why, suggesting people just quit and find work they enjoy, I believe too little attention has been placed on the what the organizations are doing, or better yet, NOT doing, to inspire engagement in their employees. But I want you to hold that thought as we now look at the Great Breakup.
The Great Breakup is a term used in the most recent McKinsey report to describe the large exodus of women leaders from the workplace. Specifically, women are demanding more from work, and they’re leaving their companies in unprecedented numbers to get it. And women leaders are switching jobs at the highest rates we’ve ever seen, much greater than their male counterparts. As a result, companies are struggling to hold on to the relatively few women leaders they have. And all of these dynamics are even more pronounced for women of color.
And I believe this is one of the most profound statements from the report:
The reason for the break up is because it’s increasingly important to women leaders that they work for companies that prioritize flexibility, employee well-being, and diversity, equity and inclusion. And if companies don’t take action, they won’t jut lose their current women leadership team, they’ll risk losing the next generation of women leaders as well.
Basically what they’re saying is that these issues are personal. This is a key change we’ve seen in the workplace since the pandemic.
Despite the progress that’s been made, we’re still having the same conversations about not only the obstacles to advancement but the struggle women and particularly underrepresented women continue to have in workplaces where they are unable to thrive because they’re doing all they can to just survive.
And then we’re confused about why people are “quiet quitting” instead of just leaving? When it comes women and other underrepresented women I believe they’re quietly quitting because of the economic wage gap in conjunction with the current economy that’s requiring them to stay. So to say those in this situation should just quit and find something they enjoy discounts the struggle and challenge of doing that when the economics may not make it feasible. Also there may be a lack of belief that going someplace new will be any different from where they are now. Where many believe equity and inclusion are nothing more than illusions.
So let’s talk about what can be done.
Now my work centers around helping high-achieving women, particularly women leaders discover the meaningful and fulfilling work they want to do. They lack the clarity of direction and the confidence to make the change and we help them to overcome both so they can have, what I call, career/life alignment, meaning they’re doing fulfilling impactful work that’s aligned to their values, vision, and lifestyle needs.
So from that perspective if you’re currently quiet quitting and feel stuck or trapped I highly recommend you take some time to discover what’s next for you. What’s the right direction for your career and will that direction help you find the meaningful work you’re meant to do in the world. In my proven framework I break down the inner and outer game required to succeed. Fundamentally, clarity, confidence, connection, and commitment are the 4 C’s we master in the framework to help discover what’s right for you.
Get clear about your gifts, talents and abilities and what you have to offer the world.
Get confident in the value you bring with who you are and what you do.
Connect with the right organizations, people and places to ensure you land in the right place that’s aligned to your values and values your genius.
Commit to being in the drivers seat of your career, not tolerating or settling, but getting what you desire and deserve.
That’s fundamentally what I work on with my clients who are discovering and getting the careers they want. I’ll also be training and coaching on a piece of this work in my upcoming event, What’s Next? Week, strategies for discovering your next best step in your career. We’ll be teaching and coaching on this for 5-days live starting Monday, November 28th through Friday, December 2nd. I’ll drop the link in the show notes so you can reserve your spot.
On the other hand, if your employer is trying to get it right but still falling short, not providing you with a work culture where you feel like you belong, where you feel like you have a voice, where you feel like you can make an impact, where you have been ignored and overlooked, then as a leader in that organization I suggest you propose that they stop with the typical approaches to this work and do something NEW.
Despite the gains that have happened over the years and all the recruitment efforts organizations have engaged in, women, especially women of color, are still dramatically underrepresented corporate America, and especially in senior leaderships. The report talks about how 1 in 4 C-suite leaders are women and 1 in 20 are women of color despite their desire to be promoted and step into higher levels of leadership. There still exists little to no opportunity for them.
So, instead of focusing your time on training and recruitment, why not create a women executive pipeline for promotion? Why not work proficiently at preparing and situating your high-potentials to step into senior leadership roles over the next 12 months. Stop training white leaders to tolerate and work with staff of color and get more women and women leaders of color IN senior level of positions so that you can be “trained” through the daily interactions with those who don’t look like them.
Experts agree that diversity enhances business outcomes and when you have women leaders revenue is increased by as much as 12%. So start by changing your promotion ratios.
Over the last five years, I've had the pleasure and privilege of coaching and facilitating communities of female leaders within and across organizations to unapologetically own their voice and power while overcoming the gender and racial barriers while elevating to higher levels of leadership. These experiences have shown me that there's a need for women to have access to a female collective designed to gain greater clarity, confidence, and ability to develop as empathetic leaders that represent the future of work.
This support system encourages and celebrates a feminine approach to leadership that’s not grounded in the patriarchy and also positions women leaders as whole, full, and capable instead of needing to be “developed.” Another reason women leaders of color, in the LGBTQ+ community, and with disabilities are “breaking up” with organizations is because of the constant microagressions, lack of support, isolation, and feeling underappreciated. So creating communities or circles of support, allow women to get the support they need from each other, as well as, develop strategies to help the organization dismantle these often unchecked behaviors.
Start taking advantage of the cultural capital and unique skillsets of the the women leaders to design clear pathways for change, retention and advancement.
Now, McKinsey also talked about the fact that managers just aren't trained and equipped to deal with this, and I agree with that. I have said for years that the old ways of leadership development are outdated. They just don't work because it's always been from a patriarchal perspective. We keep using the same practices and getting the same results. And as I remember, I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of insanity.
I always say that in order to have something you’ve never had before, you have to do something you’ve never done before. You can't keep following the same old scripts of diversity training and hiring practices, but not creating a culture that supports people to thrive. You’ve got to get deeper into the psyche, the humanity of the people within organizations and shift their thinking to shift their behaviors in a way that truly fosters a supportive pluralistic culture.
That means investing in facilitated experiences that push leaders toward personal introspection and increased self-awareness. It’s time to stop talking only about the business case and also position the moral case for change. As one of my mentors Ella Bell a professor at Dartmouth and member of my dissertation committee, told me years ago, organizations are in society, not apart from it. Our societies aren’t monolithic so why are we trying to create homogeneous patriarchal organizations asking women leaders to deny who they are in an effort to blend in; instead, of emphasizing the value of a workplace that embraces all styles and ways of thinking and being?
Look at where it’s gotten us according to the McKinsey report:
One in three Black women leaders say that they've been denied or passed over for opportunities because of personal characteristics around their race or gender.
58% of Black women leaders are undermined by having their judgment questioned.
Women of color, women with disabilities and LGBTQ plus women are struggling with microaggressions and being questioned about their talents and abilities constantly.
Latinas and Black women feel less psychologically safe and are less likely than other women to say their manager shows interest in their career development that even ask them questions about it.
And Asian and Black women are less likely to have strong team allies.
Let’s abandon these one-size-fits-all off-the-self leadership development practices and bias trainings because, my friends, they’re just not working effectively. At least the last 7 years I’ve been reviewing the McKinsey reports are showing me that. And listen, if you don’t know how to shake things up, bring in underrepresented women consultants who are advocating for a new way of doing this work, into your organizations to help you.
I know that’s a lot to take in on Turkey Day, but I want to encourage you to take a moment as we’re closing out 2022 and ask yourself where you’re situated in this conversation. Are you quiet quitting? Considering joining the Great Breakup? Struggling with what feels like an illusion of change in your organization? And then ask yourself, what’s next?
Do you need to get clear about what it is that you want? To understand and value your skills and talents and confidently find a place that will honor and appreciate what you bring to the table? If that's the case, I highly recommend that you take some time to do that work.
But if you're in a position of leadership, love what you do but the culture hasn’t shifted in a way to truly support you and you don’t want to quiet quit or breakup, consider bringing some of the suggestions I shared above to your organization.
Do you need to create a supportive circle of support for your underrepresented women leaders in your organization? Does your organization need to create a new and robust executive leadership pipeline for women? Or do they need to rethink their training and leadership develop efforts to embrace a more pluralistic introspective approach? Maybe you need them all! And if you can’t start organization-wide, maybe you can start in your department or with your team to show the impact of taking a new approach to these issues.
As the report said, there’s a whopping gap between what’s expected of management and how they’re being trained and particularly rewarded on this work.
I also invite you, before the year is out, to hop on the phone with me and let’s have a mini strategy session to talk about where you are and the gap between where you want to go and what actually is going on.
Are you in the quiet quitting category or are you ready to break up and need support stepping into something that makes the best sense for you. The link is going to be in the show notes, so you can just click on it and get on my calendar so we can talk about your next path.
If you're in an executive or senior leadership role and at your wits end about how to support change in your organization’s culture, I invite you also to schedule a session so we can sit down talk about what’s going on and how I can help support that work in your organization.
Happy Thanksgiving and until next time, I want you to have an amazingly rebellious week. Take care.