1 in 3 women of color are planning on leaving their jobs by next year, according to a new survey. Here’s what employers should do to help.

Black women influencers
Many women of color are often the ‘first’ or one of a ‘few’ in their corporate environments and the challenging dynamics that come with that are exhausting.

  • Women of color often feel unheard, unseen, and mentally and physically burned out at work.
  • A new survey found that nearly “two-thirds of women of color are not satisfied with their company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.”
  • Women of color don’t feel safe talking about their challenges or saying they need a break without it affecting their career.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Women of color are exhausted. That is why so many of them are planning on leaving their job by sometime next year. Are you one of them?

A recent survey by Fairygodboss, the largest career company for women, and nFormation, a community for and by professional women of color, found that one in 3 of all women of color are planning on leaving their jobs by next year. More than anything else, the women surveyed cited feelings of burnout as their reason for leaving.

As the saying goes, a woman’s work is never done, and in 2020 our workloads became back-breaking. Many women faced additional family duties such as homeschooling kids, or taking care of aging parents in addition to having to shoulder most household responsibilities and increased demands at work.

“When you add all of these factors on top of the racial, gender, and class-based trauma caused by the events of the past year and the ways that those events directly impact the hearts, minds, and psyches of women of color, it can be easy to understand why all of us just need a break,” said Rha Goddess, cofounder of nFormation. “We have to remember that women of color are navigating the challenges of often being a ‘first’ or a ‘few’ in their corporate environments and many of the challenging dynamics that come with that, even in the best companies, are already exhausting.”

With women of color facing both the COVID-19 pandemic and the plague of racism, Goddess said, of course, stress levels increased in 2020. The survey found that despite lofty statements about a commitment to diversity, nearly two-thirds of women of color are not satisfied with their company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. And 60% of women of color feel that their companies are not prepared to handle racist incidents in the workplace – both contributing factors when it comes to leaving their jobs.

“Many of the women we speak with at nFormation are tired of having the same conversations over and over again with leaders who just don’t seem to consider the full scope of their realities and the ways in which they differ greatly from their white colleagues,” Goddess said. “They want to be in the company of people who get it without the need for a PowerPoint.”

Furthermore, many women of color want more than a career; they desire a calling, which also causes women of color to consider leaving their jobs.

“COVID has caused many women of color to reconsider their career paths and they want to find a career with greater purpose,” said Georgene Huang, CEO and cofounder of Fairygodboss.

Reclaiming my time after leaving my job

Dionne Nicole of Houston, Texas, recently left her job at a full-service boutique marketing agency. She was hired to be a copywriter but as the company’s number of clients grew and the staff didn’t, she found her role expanding. Soon, she was handling strategy, business coaching, and project management for clients.

Then 2020 happened.

“It was a challenging year for all of us with the COVID-19 pandemic, but especially for me, as a single Black woman,” she said. “George Floyd’s murder was such a stark reminder that I’m not safe in this country, that the work isn’t over, and I have to continue to advocate for myself.”

Nicole says she felt that in order to do so, leaving her job was a must. She needed to no longer be in an environment that didn’t support her well-being.

“I also need to have more control over who benefits from my intelligence and gifts because I want the world to be different and I feel called to do my part,” she said. “That’s why I decided to start my own business.”

Today Dionne Nicole is a holistic business coach for women who want to do business differently. Her goal is to show women that the 9-to-5 or 40-hour workweek model isn’t the only path to productivity – something she realized during her time at her previous job.

“I need to have space for deep work, and I need to be able to stop and go for a walk and let my ideas marinate instead of being behind a desk just for the sake of being seen as working,” she said. “There is absolutely not just one way to accomplish something.”

Most of all, Dionne Nicole wants to help the women she works with to prioritize self-care. During the pandemic, she recorded more than 100 episodes for her podcast Unconventional Self-Care Diary to offer ways women can reexamine their relationship to self-care.

“A bath only goes so far,” she said.

Dionne Nicole wants to help women learn how to give themselves a break.

“More than anything, I’m on a mission to help women value rest because in a world that is ‘go, go, go,’ I want to reclaim my time,” she said. “My ancestors didn’t have the luxury of rest, so I actually consider it a form of my reparations.”

What can companies do to better serve women of color?

If companies want to retain the women of color they employ, they must get serious about diversity and inclusion initiatives – which means moving beyond lip service.

“Corporate pledges and statements are a great place to start, but they need to be backed up with actions,” Huang said.

These actions should include investing time and resources into defining a diversity and inclusion strategy that spans recruitment, hiring, and workplace practices and that sets specific goals.

“From thousands of anonymous company reviews left on Fairygodboss, we know that seeing women and women of color, in positions of leadership is critical in attracting women to your organization and is a clear example of showcasing your commitment to gender diversity,” Huang said.

Company leaders must be willing to have difficult conversations.

“There has to be honest dialogue about where the gaps are in knowledge, mindset and behavior so that they can be addressed,” Goddess said. “Company leaders need to be willing to be educated about realities that are distinct from their own.”

Women of color need to feel safe to talk about the challenges they face and safe to say they need a break without it being detrimental to their career. Women of color also need to feel supported in their goals and aspirations.

“High quality leaders understand the importance of investing in their people,” Goddess said. “According to our women, there are cases where individual leaders within companies are doing it and it makes a world of difference when a woman of color can say that she feels seen and heard by the people who are supposed to serve and support her leadership.”

Women of color want credit where it’s due. When they don’t get it, they consider leaving their jobs.

“They want their intelligence, brilliance and infinite potential to be recognized instead of taken for granted,” Goddess said. “They want to be honored for their contribution.”

But company leaders must care about their employees’ overall well-being, too.

“At nFormation, our women are seeking a kind of asylum from all of these never-ending demands to put everyone else’s needs and agendas before their own health,” Goddess said. “Yes, women of color are strong, but we are also human.”

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Biden’s plan to spend $775 billion on childcare and eldercare could create millions of jobs, study says

taking temperature childcare daycare
In this May 27, 2020 photo, Aaron Rainboth, a teacher at the Frederickson KinderCare daycare center in Tacoma, Wash., wears a mask as he takes the temperature of Benjamin Simpson, 4, after he complained of feeling hot following an outdoor play period, but found it to be normal. In a world weary of the coronavirus, many working parents with young children are now struggling with the decision on when or how they’ll be comfortable returning to their child care providers. Frederickson KinderCare, which has been open throughout the pandemic to care for children of essential workers, removed carpets and spaced out tables and chairs as part of their measures to control the spread of the coronavirus.

    • Spending $775 billion on care could create millions of jobs, per a study from UMass’ Political Economy Research Institute.
    • Across 18 states, it could result in 5.3 million new jobs, the study by Lenore Palladino found.
    • Biden is proposing $400 billion for home and community care and $25 billion for upgrading childcare.
    • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Spending $775 billion on three different forms of care infrastructure – childcare, home healthcare, and residential care – could create 5.3 million jobs in 18 states over 10 years, a new study found.

The research, from Lenore Palladino at the Political Economy Research Institute at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, models a $775 billion investment in care infrastructure, something that President Joe Biden campaigned on. Currently, the American Jobs Plan, the first part of Biden’s two-pronged infrastructure package, contains $400 billion for home and community care for the elderly and disabled, along with $25 billion for upgrading childcare facilities and making them more accessible.

“As the mother of a son who experiences severe disabilities, I really know firsthand the difference these services can make, and I’m going to work with the administration and members of Congress on the details for significant investments in home and community-based care,” Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) said in a press conference about the study.

In the 18 states studied, labor force participation by women fell by 3.2% from 2019 to 2020. According to the study, there are 1.7 million care workers in those states, and 87% are female. They are disproportionately women of color.

The study also notes that “median hourly wages are extremely low” for those working as nursing assistants, home healthcare or personal care aides, as well as those working in childcare, coming in at an average of $13.09 an hour.

“Wages are extremely low for the care workforce, based in the structural racism and sexism that has consigned care work as ‘women’s work,’ and disproportionately work by women of color that is not seen as economically valuable,” Palladino writes.

Tina Tchen, the president and CEO of TIME’S UP Foundation, said in the press conference that low wages in the industry are “a legacy that goes all the way back to slavery in our country, right, where caregiving, this kind of work was not compensated for.” That marginalization continued, Tchen said, as caregivers were left out of labor protections in the New Deal; wages still remain low today.

“Advocates have been calling for, in some cases, $15 an hour,” Palladino said. “I think that the concept of a family supporting wage is an incredibly important concept because we know that so many people in the care workforce are supporting their families.”

The next part of the infrastructure package, the American Family Plan, is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. That plan will also invest highly in childcare and education. However, Rep. Katie Porter has called it a mistake to split up the two packages. Politico reported that some childcare advocates were disappointed to see that some measures – like raising wages and benefits – weren’t bundled together. Goldman Sachs projects the likeliest scenario is a single bill worth about $3.3 trillion.

On the whole, while there’s been some recovery, women workers have been hit hard during the pandemic. And, following the K-shape of the recovery, low-wage female workers have faced down income losses while risking their lives to work in person.

“You can’t go to work if you don’t have a road to get there. You can’t go to work if you don’t have a safe place for your kid Right. These are like synonymous things,” Jasmine Tucker, the National Women’s Law Center’s director of research, previously told Insider. “Childcare is infrastructure and we need to treat it that way.”

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4 prominent women leaders share what they really want from their employers

muslim women at work
Women want flexibility and to be evaluated based on deliverables, not how much time they spend at the “office.”

  • Women in the workplace want equal pay and flexibility, but they also want thoughtful appreciations.
  • Four female leaders share how employers can invest in meaningful relationships with their employees.
  • For one, they should let employees know their work and insights are valued.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Last year, I received the iconic Turquoise Pantone 1837 Blue box as a bonus gift from a Fortune 500 company. Inside was a handwritten, congratulatory note and a gift certificate for $1,500 to Tiffany & Co. It provided a woman’s name and phone number to call for personal concierge service, along with an option to take the gift certificate directly into a store to select a piece of my liking. It was the most memorable bonus gift I had ever received.

I emphasize memorable because I have earned a performance bonus of $1,500 or more several times throughout my professional career, and while it’s incredible to receive “unexpected” cash, or achieve a bonus that you have been chasing, it was the creativity and personalization of this gift that made me feel appreciated and empowered.

It’s no secret that working women seek flexibility and want to be rewarded and judged on deliverables, as opposed to how much time we spend at the office. We also seek equal pay, in particular for women of color. While these issues continue to play out, it is promising to see more companies shifting their efforts to prioritize company culture, as evidenced by examples like this terrific, supportive note that a Chicago-area CEO sent to his employees to demonstrated that he understood they have personal lives.

So, what else do women really want from their employers? I checked in with four female business leaders, authors, and TV personalities on the topic, and here are their ultimate insights.

1. Go beyond meeting my expectations

human resources layoffs boss meeting
Connect what’s personally important to someone with the organization.

“Enlightened employers go beyond meeting the basic needs of their employees and seek to truly understand how to engage them,” Denise Lee Yohn, brand leadership expert and author of the book “FUSION: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World’s Greatest Companies,” said. “By connecting what’s personally important to someone with the purpose and values of the organization, companies create meaningful relationships with employees and align their efforts with the brand.”

Yohn elaborates, “An example would be how Airbnb opens the café in its headquarters to employees’ families, even for dinner. This helps working parents, as they don’t have to worry about rushing home to prepare a meal or to spend time with their children. And it is a terrific expression of Airbnb’s brand mission — to help you feel that you belong anywhere — and its core value of hospitality.”

2. The value of my work is personal to me

greet coworkers
Employees want to know that they matter.

Carrie Bobb, president of Carrie Bobb & Co, a real estate firm that works with women-focused brands such as Soul Cycle, DryBar, and Sephora remarks, “Exceptional employees, the most valuable assets for an employer, want to know they matter and that the work they are creating is meaningful and will last beyond their time spent at the company. It must be personal. During extremely difficult situations or in the midst of managing a crisis, it is critical to have empathy. Not just express empathy, actually have it. There’s a difference. Often in large corporations, there are so many people involved in the messaging itself that the heart can get lost in translation. Employees want to be heard and understood, and they can tell the difference between a manager expressing the message the company wants to deliver and a manager actually expressing they care for the individual.” 

3. Ask for my opinion

coworker conversation
Women want to be appreciated, respected, and valued.

Jenna Wolfe, the host of Fox sports show “First Things First” and a former “Today” lifestyle correspondent, offers a sincere and direct perspective.

“I’ve worked in television for 23 years, the bulk of which have been as a sportscaster in a male-dominated field,” she said. “The happiest of them have been when I felt appreciated, respected, and valued. I want to know that you need me, that you want me, and that I make a difference. Ask me my opinion, let me sit in on content meetings, listen to my ideas, and show me you’ll actually implement the ones which can help us grow. Don’t get me wrong — a raise is nice. An extra vacation day never hurts. And I’m always down for a gift card to any sports apparel store. But for me, as a woman who comes to a sports office every day well read and well prepared, there’s nothing that makes me happier than commanding the respect of the people I work with.” 

4. Everyone likes to feel included

coworkers office
Inclusion goes beyond gender.

Gina Smith is the president of Rauxa, a woman-founded and led advertising agency owned by Publicis Groupe, and says she prioritizes being empathetic to a diverse group of women. She says, “We have always operated from the perspective that every employee deserves empathy, transparency, and the knowledge that everyone’s ideas are valid regardless of who they are. So it’s not just about meeting the needs of female employees — although that’s critically important — but also about age, experience, gender, orientation, color, and every other area of inclusion.”


Each of these testimonies reinforces that women want to feel valued, respected, and understood, and there are numerous ways for employers to demonstrate that. Meaningful, thoughtful, and personal gestures will go a long way and create a lasting impression. As a company founder of a female agency, I personally love to reward my team with personal gifts or self-care items that they would not spend money on for themselves, such as a massage or yoga membership, and by empowering them to take on more of a leadership role. 

For the curious, with the Tiffany’s gift certificate, I purchased a Paloma Picasso necklace that reads “LOVE,” a value that I prioritize in both my work and daily life. I wear this necklace almost every day and I never forget where it came from. In today’s fast-paced business world, it’s key to treat your employees like people, not transactions, because everyone can always use a little more love, all while moving up the leadership ranks.

This article was originally published on Insider on October 23, 2019.

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The pandemic has been especially brutal for women striving to be executives

woman giving presentation

A new report on women and leadership from IBM published on International Women’s Day shows that there has been no change in the number of women in top executive positions, and some leadership roles have even seen a decline.

The new report looks at women in the corporate pipeline, estimating the share of women in positions at different career levels. The analysis covers 10 industries, like healthcare and retail, from nine different countries or regions. 

Women are already underrepresented in various corporate leadership positions, and it seems like representation is becoming worse based on the new report.

“There are fewer women in the pipeline today than in 2019, a situation made worse by the pandemic,” IBM wrote in the report. In the US, around 2.3 million women who are at least 20 years old have left the workforce since February 2020, compared to around 1.8 million men, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

IBM’s report shows that there was no change in the share of women who were part of the C-suite and executive board positions in 2019, when IBM first conducted this survey, and in 2021. Additionally, the share of women has decreased in other positions, from junior professionals to senior vice presidents:

Senior vice presidents and both middle and senior managers saw the largest percentage-point declines between 2019 and 2021. 

Interestingly, the number in the top two leadership positions saw no change despite “national mandates in a growing list of countries that includes Norway, Spain, France, Iceland, and Germany.” These requirements include a certain number of women be part of boards, according to a NPR article cited by the report. 

Similarly, according to a report from FactSet, a large share of women in top management positions are concentrated in human resources and chief administrative roles, while only 5.5% of CEOs among the 3,000 large US companies in the analysis were women.

Among the 429 organizations included in both the 2019 and 2021 IBM studies, the share of respondents who said they agree with the statement “we ensure high-performing women receive promotions as often as high-performing men” decreased while those who responded neutral, or neither agreeing nor disagreeing, increased. 

The report notes that although workplaces are implementing more programs to help address the issue of inequity for women, companies can do more to really address the underlying issues, such as creating “personalized development plans” and making visible commitments.

Only 1 in 4 organizations said advancing women is a top 10 business priority, and fewer respondents this year compared to 2019 said “they expected their organizations would significantly improve gender parity over the next 5 years.”

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