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Why Women Choose to Stay at Their Company: Insights from Three Experts

Why Women Choose to Stay at Their Company:
Insights from
Christine Cocrane
Senior Vice President of Managing Advisory
Services at Logistics Management Institute
(LMI), a leading consulting firm
Jesma Johnson
Senior Director of Global Diversity, Equity and
Inclusion at Colgate-Palmolive Company, a
global household and consumer products giant
Dana Rixter
Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer
at BAE Systems, Inc, a global defense and
security company

In today’s rapidly evolving work landscape, employee retention has become a critical concern for organizations. Among the various segments of the workforce, understanding why women choose to stay at their respective companies is of particular significance. We reached out to three accomplished leaders, each from different organizations, who have demonstrated a significant commitment to addressing this phenomenon. These companies have not only embraced The She-Suite’s Brand Leadership Institute (BLI), but also actively foster a culture that nurtures female leadership.

To gain insight into why women continue their professional journeys successfully in their workplaces, we spoke with three experts.

We reached out to three accomplished leaders, each from different organizations, who have demonstrated a significant commitment to addressing this phenomenon.
Why do women stay at your organization?

Dana Rixter explains that retaining women is a vital mission at BAE Systems, as women are underrepresented in aerospace, defense, and STEM industries. She elaborates, “It’s imperative that we hire, retain, develop, and advance our talented women. We’re particularly proud of our representation of women at the executive level, with 57% of our executive team being women. Ensuring their retention, along with that of other female employees, is mission-critical.” Rixter adds, “BAE Systems has conducted extensive research into why women stay with our company, identifying three key reasons: our people and culture, our purpose, and opportunities for personal and professional growth.” Concerning people and culture, BAE Systems focuses on developing inclusive leaders, promoting a sense of belonging, and nurturing overall well-being. This combination creates an environment where women feel valued and thrive. Their purpose, centered around protecting those who protect us, is deeply embedded in the company culture. The fulfillment derived from meaningful work further solidifies women’s commitment to the organization. Lastly, opportunities for personal and professional growth, facilitated by initiatives like BLI and a network of employee resource groups, provide women with the chance to continuously advance in their careers within the company.

Christine Cocrane underscores the critical factors that influence women’s decisions to stay at LMI. Firstly, she notes the increasing importance of flexibility, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to work from home and maintain a flexible schedule has become a game-changer for many women as they navigate their career paths. Secondly, culture emerges as a significant determinant. Cocrane states, “Culture deeply matters to individuals, especially women. They want to work in an environment that invests in them as individuals, not just in their job roles.” Lastly, the opportunity for mobility, job stability, and growth plays a crucial role. Women seek organizations that believe in their potential, take risks on them, and provide opportunities to thrive.

Jesma Johnson highlights how Colgate encourages managers to view employees as individuals and take a personal interest in understanding their passions and desires. Colgate offers numerous leadership development programs that cater to women at all levels, and these programs are expanding worldwide. Johnson envisions making the Colgate experience just as fulfilling for frontline employees in the plants as it is for salaried and clerical staff. She states, “We aim to support all women in their growth, experiences, and learning within the organization.

How has BLI contributed to fostering an empowerment culture for women within your organizations?

Christine Cocrane has personally witnessed the positive impact of BLI at LMI. During a recent cohort meeting, she observed how BLI has created a safe environment that encourages transparent dialogue and promotes an understanding of what women need to succeed, both at home and in the workplace. She appreciates the sense of community that BLI has helped women establish independently and stated, “While LMI has its own affinity groups, which I adore, when women come together through a program like BLI, it generates a unique magic that an organization cannot replicate on its own.”

Cocrane has also noticed that many BLI graduates are thriving in their roles. While it can often be challenging to measure impact precisely, she estimates that 69% of their cohort graduates have been promoted, which speaks volumes.

Jesma Johnson explains that BLI has a significant impact on the retention of women through increased visibility because “seeing is believing.” Women gain confidence that Colgate is genuinely committed to creating a pipeline for purpose-driven leaders because they have tangible examples of women flourishing in their roles while successfully balancing their personal and professional lives. These women serve as inspirations and provide valuable insights into various paths women can take to achieve their career goals.

Johnson also shares her personal experience as a BLI alumna, highlighting how Colgate recognized her potential, supported her in securing a role she is passionate about, and facilitated her ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance. The BLI played a pivotal role in her journey, encouraging her to engage in open conversations with HR leadership and organizational advocates without fear of repercussions. Johnson concludes, “That’s why I hold the position I have today, in addition to the fact that I’ve earned and deserve it.”

Dana Rixter explains that BLI has significantly contributed to their efforts to support and retain women at BAE Systems, saying, “We’ve had tremendous success with the program. Women who’ve graduated from the BLI are staying with the company. They’re also being promoted more often than those who haven’t been through the program. In fact, 40% of the women from the recent BLI cohort have been promoted.”

Rixter notes that they’re also seeing increased confidence in BLI alumni. On top of that, BLI graduates are much clearer about what it takes to achieve their goals. She adds, “It’s not just their career goals. It’s their work. It’s their life goals as well. It’s really that intersection, that whole-person outcome.” The ability to set boundaries and take care of themselves enables them to take better care of others, leading to improved relationships between managers and program graduates. They have become closer and more connected, making managers more aware of and invested in their employees’ aspirations.

While the specific factors may vary from one organization to another, it is evident that flexibility, a supportive culture, and opportunities for personal and professional growth, such as programs like BLI, are key factors in retaining women. As these experts have shown, organizations that recognize and address these aspects can create environments where women are not only motivated to stay but also thrive in their careers.

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