Women made gains in representation last year, but burnout is still on the rise
In spite of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s representation had improved across most of the corporate pipeline at the end of 2020. This is an encouraging sign—and worth recognizing after an incredibly difficult year. But there are also persistent gaps in the pipeline: promotions at the first step up to manager3 are not equitable, and women of color lose ground in representation at every level.
There is still a “broken rung” at the first step up to manager. Since 2016, we have seen the same trend: women are promoted to manager at far lower rates than men, and this makes it nearly impossible for companies to lay a foundation for sustained progress at more senior levels. Additionally, the gains in representation for women overall haven’t translated to gains for women of color. Women of color continue to lose ground at every step in the pipeline—between the entry level and the C-suite, the representation of women of color drops off by more than 75 percent. As a result, women of color account for only 4 percent of C-suite leaders, a number that hasn’t moved significantly in the past three years.
The representation of women is only part of the story. The pandemic continues to take a toll on employees, and especially women. Women are even more burned out than they were a year ago, and burnout is escalating much faster among women than men. One in three women says they have considered downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce this year, compared to 1 in 4 who said this a few months into the pandemic.4 Additionally, 4 in 10 women have considered leaving their company or switching jobs—and high employee turnover in recent months suggests that many of them are following through.5