The reason female execs leave is not glass ceiling

New research has revealed that there is a more insidious reason why females leave corporate jobs

Retention of senior female executives is a major battleground for HR, and new research has revealed that while the glass ceiling remains intact, a more insidious reason females leave corporate jobs is that they become fed up with toxic work cultures.

According to the opinions of more than 300 female entrepreneurs, almost a quarter (23%) cited that culture and values misalignment was the main reason they have left their corporate jobs. Less than one per cent of those surveyed by Corporate Crossovers said the glass ceiling, including factors such as the pay disparity, was their reason for leaving.

Some 68% of the women who participated in the survey now earn less than when they were in corporate employment, yet almost two thirds said they would never go back to corporate life despite being unhappy with their current income level. The finding highlights the need for greater workplace flexibility, and the degree to which women value their personal time and work environment over cash.

The survey was analysed by Wendy Kerr, a business expert specialising in advising women who leave the corporate world to run their own business. According to Kerr, many women get sick of macho corporate environments. “They are tired of putting up with the toxic culture and they start to disengage, valuing their time and autonomy above their salary and job. This is the catalyst for them to leave and set up their own enterprises,” Kerr said.

One survey participant who now manages her own consultancy firm said that after a successful corporate career she decided to leave and set up her own business because she was fed up and disappointed with management not 'walking the talk'. “When it came to managing people and truly honouring the values that they regularly spoke about, [management] didn't necessarily live and breathe those values on a day-to-day basis,” Trisha Proud said.

Other survey participants echoed this theme. “There was a disconnect between my values and the corporate world's values,” one participant said. Another added, “I got tired of wasting time on political activity versus actually doing the job”.

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