In President Barack Obama's recent State of the Union address, he emphasized that "women make up about half our workforce," but still face pay and pregnancy discrimination, as well as "Mad Men"-era workplace policies.
Interestingly, you don't have to look far to realize that many employers face difficulties with these issues, as well as holding onto their top female talent.
Of course, we know that turnover is very costly for companies, and something that employers want to get under control. In fact, research suggests that replacement costs can be up to 60 percent of an employee's annual salary.
Women typically leave because of "push" or "pull" factors. Push factors might include the perception of limited opportunities for them; a culture that does not respect them; incivility in the workplace; a lack of senior role models; perceived discrimination and unfairness; personal health issues; excessive workload; or limited rewards or recognition. Pull factors could include better job offers, more compensation, new opportunities, greater advancement, family responsibilities (elder care, child care, partner or spouse issues) that take them out of the job, career changes or switching to a new career field.
When women leave a company, they may cite family and personal considerations as the reason, but it is often other factors within the company that have convinced them to leave. Companies may not be able to regulate the "pull" factors, but they have a great deal of control over what "pushes" women to look at other alternatives.
What can employers do about it?
— Take the time to talk with all of your employees. Find out how satisfied they are with their work, with their colleagues and the company. See what they consider to be the barriers and obstacles at the company.