New ways to support women in the workplace and end the exodus. 

Sobering data in the Women in the Workplace Report by McKinsey shows that 1 in 4 women are on the verge of opting-out or downshifting their careers because of pandemic disruptions. For mothers with young children, it’s even worse: 1 in 3. Kim Feil, Aspire Brands CMO & CSO, Colette LaForce, 6x CMO, Independent Director, and Marti Walsh, NAPA AUTO PARTS VP of Marketing shared actionable, future-building insights on how to address this troubling trend of “self-selected talent attrition” in a recent CMO Club virtual roundtable.

5 steps you can you take to end the exodus

Be the change. Live the change.

  • Everyone on your team has obligations outside of work: child care, elder care, pet care, and more. No category of responsibility is inherently more important than another. Respect the multidimensional lives your people lead by planning all-team meet-ups around these. Model grace, compassion, and kindness by honoring the diverse circumstances your team negotiates in their lives. 
  • Be a member of the leadership team who walks out of an important meeting to take an important personal call. Be the one that builds WFH into your calendar, and into the cadence of the business. 

Retain the positive ways the pandemic shaped work

  • In a virtual conference room there’s no head of the table. Reinforce the equal footing that the virtual workplace gives us. Use it to nurture voices that have been marginalized, underrepresented, and unheard due to biases and lack of opportunities.
  • We’re now all empathetic to the noise disruptions that remote team members have always had to endure. Take the entire meeting virtual if the circumstances of the hybrid model translates into a turbulent experience for those participating remotely. 

By taking an optimistic stance and being deliberate about our approach we can stop the she-cession exodus and work to protect and grow the gains we’ve made with gender diversity in the workplace.
– Colette LaForce, 6x CMO, Independent Director

Build systems that institutionalize support

  • Make developmental objectives just as important as performance objectives for your team. Understand what the long-term career objectives of individuals are and help them build the skill sets, experiences, and the network that will equip them to achieve these goals.
  • Budget for and invest in training. Mobilize resources to help your talent develop the communications and leadership skills they need to get them to the next level.

It’s our responsibility to invest in up-and-coming talent in deliberate ways. We can do this by backing our commitment to helping our people grow skills and knowledge with a fully-baked training budget. And by serving as good role models.
– Marti Walsh, VP of Marketing for NAPA AUTO PART

Change the vernacular. Stigmatize biased language. 

  • “She has sharp elbows.” “She’s difficult.” “She’s tough.” The biased language used to describe successful women and POC leaders is very destructive. These biases are deeply ingrained. Bring deliberate attention to them. We all need to check our own language first. Then we need to change the vernacular to create the right conditions for the next generation of talent to bring their authentic selves to work and thrive. 

Reach back, pull forward

  • Encourage peer-to-peer mentoring. It’s a powerful way to help your talent negotiate challenges and bring blind spots into focus. Whether it’s a personal BOD or some other model, make sure your folks have established relationships with peers who will give them honest feedback about both their strengths and their vulnerabilities. 
  • Support your people in approaching and securing executive sponsors within the organization. Help them identify the right candidates and make a personal connection. Be personally proactive about offering your sponsorship when you see someone who needs it. 
  • Hold your company’s BOD accountable to mentoring, sponsoring, and spending time with the up-and-coming women and POC talent. Create more opportunities for your stars to have exposure to and to benefit from interactions with the Board. 

When we reach back to pull forward we take a proactive stance in solving the ‘she-cession’’ problem.
– Kim Feil, CMO & CSO for Aspire Brands, Inc.


➡️ CMO Club members can watch the virtual roundtable replay here.

➡️  Join your peers for an upcoming CMO Club virtual roundtable. Check out the calendar of events