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Gender inequality, sex discrimination on lady or woman such as career, work or social rights issue concept, unequal or not equal sign with businessman on top level and businesswoman on lower level

The new gender gap: one in five senior female leaders plan to leave in the next year

  • Over a quarter (26%) of female SDMs are set to leave their roles in 2023, making them TWICE as likely to leave as their male counterparts (13%)
  • New ‘Drivers of Change’ research from specialist change consultancy, Proteus, reveals how senior decision makers (SDMs – classified as owners, partners, c-suites, boards, and non-board directors) at large businesses view their jobs moving into 2023 in face of ongoing market challenges
  • Almost one in five (18%) senior decision makers in the UK don’t see themselves in their current business in 12 months’ time
  • SDMs surveyed will overwhelmingly decide to leave on their terms, but 6% are concerned their role will no longer exist, or that they will be asked to leave
Do you see yourself still being at your current business in 12 months time?  All Men Women
Yes 79% 84% 70%
No (Net) 18% 13% 26%
No, I plan to leave the business within the next 12 months 12% 8% 20%
No, I think I will be asked to leave the business within the next 12 months 3% 3% 4%
No, I don’t think my role with exist within the next 12 months 3% 3% 2%
No, other reason 0% 0% 0%
I don’t know 3% 3% 3%


Craig Mackay, CEO of Proteus, comments: “These are particularly worrying figures to be seeing at this time. Businesses are at risk of losing almost a fifth of their senior leadership teams this year – or even more if these positions are held by women. Not only is this concerning at a time of massive economic unpredictability, but businesses are also at risk of backtracking all their progress on diversity so far.

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“As we step into 2023, businesses expect to be hit with rising bills and wider economic volatility and will be focused on minimising risk, and improving retention strategies during this prolonged difficult period. Our research has shown that over half (52%) of larger organisations are set to invest in leadership remuneration, and employee benefits (55%) in the new year. While this may sound promising, businesses shouldn’t let maintaining a diverse leadership team fall by the wayside, and must support the needs of their female leadership who seem more likely to leave this year.

“This may mean looking beyond simply remuneration and benefits, and thinking about the needs and aspirations of female leaders versus their male counterparts. Each individual will have different career goals, and perhaps most importantly, a unique perspective on business approach. Businesses should be thinking here about how they can provide opportunities to advance careers, give more flexibility, as well as building a culture that is committed to employee wellbeing and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.”

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