Women Executive Pay & Retention

October 7, 2010 12:00 am

A new study finds that women executives are more than twice as likely as men to leave their jobs—voluntarily and involuntarily.

Lead author John Becker-Blease, assistant professor of finance at Oregon State University, and his co-authors at Loyola Marymount University and Trinity College analyzed data from Standard and Poor’s 1,500 firms. They classified departures as voluntary or involuntary based on careful examination of public news accounts accompanying an executive’s departure.

The study, featured in October’s issue of “Economic Inquiry,” found that about 7.2 percent of women executives left their jobs, compared with 3.8 percent of men.

The study also found that both the voluntary rates (4.3 percent for women versus 2.8 percent for men) and the involuntary rates (2.9 percent for women versus 0.9 percent for men) were higher for women executives.

Becker-Blease said research has shown that women are more likely to leave a job because of domestic or social responsibilities than men, which could explain the higher voluntary departure rate.

As for the higher rate of being dismissed from a job, Becker-Blease said research suggests that women at the mid-levels of management may not be getting the kind of opportunities and professional support they need to advance successfully to the top ranks.

Meanwhile, women continue to earn far less than their male counterparts, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

According to the GAO report:

  • Women managers earned just 81 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts in 2007, compared with 79 cents in 2000
  • Women make up 40 percent of U.S. managerial ranks, little changed from the 39 percent ratio in 2000
  • Working mothers with children younger than 18 account for an even lower 14 percent of all managers, a number that hasn’t changed since 2000

How do The DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for Executive Women stack up when it comes to employing and retaining women in the workplace and moving them up the management ranks? The companies that made the DiversityInc list share important characteristics, including strong mentoring, focused and widespread employee-resource groups, cutting-edge work/life benefits, and clear, visible commitment from top leadership.

  • Ninety percent tie senior leaders’ compensation to diversity initiatives, compared with 86 percent of The 2011 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity
  • Their boards of directors are 28 percent women, compared with 15 percent as the national average (Catalyst)
  • Senior management (CEO and direct reports and direct reports to those direct reports) are 31 percent women, compared with a national average of 13.5 percent (Catalyst)
  • Sixty-eight percent of managers participate in mentoring programs, compared with a DiversityInc Top 50 average of 39 percent
  • Forty percent have onsite childcare, compared with 21 percent nationally (Families and Work Institute)
  • All of them offer the ability to work at home and telecommute, compared with 44 percent nationally (Families and Work Institute)
  • All of them offer job sharing, compared with 31 percent nationally (Families and Work Institute)