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Why Women Will Leave Your Company – and How to Prevent It

by Elizabeth Dulberger





My journey to becoming a successful executive coach, speaker, and author was not easy. Like most, I started my career in the corporate world as an Executive Assistant, a role that offers a very unique view into an organization: you are constantly in the same room as the most powerful and influential people, but you also gain insight into all the other employees roles, thoughts, and feelings. I saw firsthand how things like political agendas play out, and how great teams, and not-so-great teams, are built.

I was eventually promoted to a team leadership role. Over time, I began to understand the women who worked for me and their struggles to be heard, seen, empowered, and understood. After having managed a large team of mainly female employees, I now understand why motivated, ambitious, talented and strong women often leave companies, and why they may leave your company.


Reason Number One 

Sometimes leaders have fought so hard to get into positions of power, that they are very careful not to lose their status. As a result, they tend to guard their accomplishments so tightly that their responses may seem defensive and unsupportive to women who are motivated and determined to get ahead. Whether this stems from envy, insecurity or something else is irrelevant — what is relevant is that talented women rely on their leaders to recognize and support their potential and advancement. This requires women and men in positions of power to remain open to mentoring and guiding their teams, without coming across as defensive or territorial.

How to prevent it:

As leaders, it’s important to remember that when we empower and encourage our teams, we not only positively impact their future careers, but we build our own professional networks, too. If you sense that someone at your organization is not receiving the support they need, feel free to offer whatever support is appropriate for you to provide. Any bit of guidance can help!


Reason Number Two

A woman may leave your company if she feels she MUST choose between the job and her home and/or family life. A woman who is repeatedly pressured to make that choice will eventually look for a culture where she doesn’t have to choose. Examples of this pressure may mean instilling a fear of speaking up about personal matters that need tending to, or requiring that she frequently stay and work long hours, leading to stress and exhaustion. A woman, or any employee, under constant stress will either end up burning out, or leaving.

How to prevent it:

Ensure that women at your organization have the ability to openly navigate the balance between their work and home lives, and the freedom to make professional compromises when necessary. Feeling supported and understood is crucial for any employee’s  workplace satisfaction, particularly for women who often play double-duty as professionals and caregivers.


“It’s important to remember that when we empower and encourage our teams, we not only positively impact their future careers, but we build our own professional networks.”


Reason Number Three

Women tend to process things externally, while most men are internal processors. What does this mean? As women, we typically want to talk things out before solving a problem. We like to weigh out the pros and the cons, and solve problems by comparing them to previous experiences. On the other hand, men will typically think things through internally, and often move forward with a solution without feeling the need to verbally express their ideas first. The challenge here is that some leaders will view a woman’s “processing time” as her “conclusion/final direction.” Women need time to process their plans so that they can reflect and make changes if necessary. If a female employee at your organization is not given a chance to process important decisions, she may avoid decision-making roles that feel hasty and uncomfortable, and could start searching for a new job where she is given time and freedom to think.

How to prevent it:

Instead, try keeping the conversation open throughout the decision-making process. Provide time and space for feedback and revisions, and set clear deadlines your employees can work within, at their own pace. Giving her that room to process will lead not only to successful problem solving, but it will give her the confidence to take her time assessing a problem, and come up with the best solution possible.


Reason Number Four

Women are often CEOs of households, organizing and anticipating what’s coming and what to prepare for. Companies that emphasize and practice the virtues of openness, contingency planning, ethical decision-making, and planning for the future will attract female employees because these often reflect their own strengths and values, making them environments women shine in.

How to prevent it:

As a leader, make sure your culture and values are not only defined, but also practiced. Ensure that the women within your organization are well informed of who you are, what you value, and why they are assets within the culture you have built.