Last Woman Standing: How to Retain Women in Leadership
Executive Creative Director
- Mar 30, 2023
I remember the call like it was yesterday. It was about 2:00 AM on a weeknight, and I was at my new job in Manhattan, working frantically to finish a project due the following day. The phone rang at my desk, and without checking the caller ID, I already knew who it was.
“Where are you?” my aunt asked. It was well past the hours I typically returned to her home in Queens where I was living at the time. I let her know I was still at work. And I’ll never forget her reply.
“What kind of job is that?”
Her response was filled with sheer confusion at the idea of working that late, but for me and my peers in finance, law, and other corporate industries, those hours came with the territory. As 25-year-old dream-chasers in the concrete jungle, this sacrifice was a small price to pay in exchange for a seat at some of the world’s most respected tables.
However, priorities shift over time. 60-hour weeks no longer work for our lives as wives, mothers, and small business owners outside of work. If you look around that same proverbial table 15 years later, women are in fewer of those seats. But those who remain have one thing in common.
Their voices have changed.
They are stronger, unwavering, and clear about their worth and the environments they will commit their talents to. To find out what keeps these powerful voices in corporate roles, I spoke with a few female executives and found some common needs.
Workplace flexibility rose to the top as the most important benefit by far. Whether we’re taking calls while breastfeeding in between dance and soccer practice or leading passion projects outside of work, female leaders value the freedom to bring their best to work from wherever it makes sense in the moment. As one executive put it, “As long as the work gets done, the rest is politics.”
There’s a reason Beyonce’s “Break My Soul” topped the Billboard 100 charts for weeks in 2022. So many women have experienced burnout culture and decided the emotional sacrifice isn’t worth the compensation. Companies that retain female leaders create environments that value work/life balance, celebrate their employees, and create systems that support the needs of working women.
Between Google, ChatGPT, and a few honest male colleagues, it’s pretty easy to find out what our male counterparts are making. However, many companies continue to underpay women with the same qualifications. For companies seeking to recruit female leadership, start by skipping the lowball offer and respect our worth. Or in the words of America’s youngest female billionaire, “Pay me what you owe me.”
It's no secret that men and women experience the world in completely different ways. The Mars vs Venus analogy is undeniably accurate. But those differences in perspective can cause sparks to fly at the top of the corporate ladder and ignite the changes that our industries so desperately need. While many women won’t choose work over life to create that change, my hope is that in the future, those that remain won’t have to choose.