Women Leaving the Workforce: Where’s the Opportunity?

Thought Leadership

The data tell us that a great shesignation is afoot—there are more women leaving the workforce every day, as compounding pressures of the pandemic have caused individuals and families across the world to reevaluate work and career. Come mid-March 2020, women (and men, let’s be real here) jumped into ’round-the-clock, round-robin roleplaying—teacher, technology assistant, caretaker, nurse, playmate. It was constant, overlapping and unsustainable. And it’s no wonder people scaled back, changed jobs, or left the professional world entirely.It’s disheartening to hear of women leaving the workforce, of people feeling forced to choose between their careers and families, and even more so to grapple with companies losing sight of the fact that their employees are human beings. There’s something more than “worker” at every workstation. There’s a mom, a dad, a sister, a brother, a daughter, a son, a partner, a caretaker, a friend.And, although I absolutely could dwell in it, there’s more to this story than the leaving. In this story, I also see cause for celebrating progress. And I see profound opportunity for normalizing people-first workplace cultures.

Celebrating Progress

Today, women account for more than half of the advertising and marketing industry, with more than 52% of employees in these fields identifying as female. In 1970, when my mom and dad founded this agency, if a woman worked outside the home, she was more than likely a teacher or nurse. These professions are still excellent options, but now women absolutely can and do choose other careers, marketing included.In addition to strong representation for women across the industry, more women now hold corporate executive and senior manager positions, according to the Inclusion Index from She Runs It. The 2021 research revealed that women held 33% of corporate executive roles and 43% of senior management positions, up significantly from 2019, when just 29% of corporate and executive roles in the agency, media and tech fields were occupied by women. This, compared to the overall workforce, where women held 33% of corporate executive and 38% of senior manager positions.In short, though it took a loooooong time, we’ve made progress. VJ, for one, is proud to be a woman-owned business 52 years running. And women make up about 60% of our team. Now, back to the omelet. Because let’s be honest, we’re way past the chicken and the egg. What do we do about that pesky women-leaving-the-workforce problem?

Normalizing People-First Workplace Cultures

My hope is that our current economic conditions, giving rise to terms like “Shecession” and “Great Resignation,” will enlighten companies about viewing employees as people first and drive a paradigm shift in work cultures everywhere. And while I think we at VJ do a pretty darn good job of meeting each person where they are, we’re always looking at ways we can do better. We want to continue to attract and retain diverse talent and maintain an inclusive and supportive workplace for all.We will always seek well-rounded individuals who lead rich and full lives outside of the office, and celebrate the out-of-office moments as we do our teams’ client successes. For one, these outside perspectives make for better work—campaigns that resonate with reality on the backbone of practical, elegant solutions to client challenges. Second, but just as important, it’s impossible to be your best at work if you don’t have the time and energy to live the rest of your life. We offer our employees a competitive baseline of benefits—generous PTO, volunteer days, paid parental leave, employee recognition programs, professional development incentives—and because we know that life events are often unplanned, we approach everything with the foundation of flexibility. That is something that has not, and will never, change. Constant evolution is our focus, and personalized engagements our mantra.

Shift the Focus

It’s time we focus the employment conversation on the notion that healthy, happy, fulfilled people—yes, people!—make the best teammates and coworkers. And, yes, it’s up to us in leadership to support them as people first, in each and every situation. It’s not always the easiest path, but it’s always the right one. And right always trumps easy. If you’re interested in how we do it, check out our open positions right now. We’re hiring!Vladimir Jones is Colorado’s original independent, integrated advertising agency, with offices in Denver and Colorado Springs. We believe in brilliant brands and love making the world love them as much as we do.