Spoiler: They’re still not getting the top jobs. 

By Samantha Zabell
Updated October 02, 2015
Woman standing at table in office
An employee at your company. Your sitter. Your hairdresser. At some point in life, you’ll probably have to tell someone his or her services are no longer required. And when you do, make sure your legal ducks are in a row and then rip off that bandage fast. Make a checklist of loose ends before you begin: Are there last payments to be made? Tools or keys to be returned? Then find a private space to deliver the news. “Give them a clear reason why, but don’t spend time with explanations,” says Swann. “And don’t tell them this is hard on you, too—that’s just not true. In getting rid of them, you’re helping yourself.” So it does no good to pretend otherwise. Swann warns against offering references, as well: “If you’re firing them, there’s something about their performance you don’t like. Don’t offer consolation prizes.”
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It’s no secret that women are struggling to advance in the workplace—a Pew Research Center study from earlier this year cited several barriers they face, including family responsibilities and unfair standards. Now, in partnership with LeanIn.org, consulting firm McKinsey & Company conducted a new survey of 30,000 employees and 118 companies to see where exactly women stand in corporate offices, and where they still need a little help. Here, a few things we learned from the report.

Women are still underrepresented in corporate offices.

According to the survey, close to 50 percent of entry-level employees are women, but women hold only 17 percent of C-suite (the senior most level) jobs. This is not a great advancement compared to the last survey in 2012, when that number was 16 percent.

More men are leaving companies than women.

You might think that women struggle to advance because they are more likely to leave the workplace, but this actually isn’t true. In fact, women are less likely to leave companies at almost every level—especially as they advance. Women in SVP-level positions are 20 percent less likely to leave than their male counterparts, and women at C-level positions are roughly 50 percent less likely to leave.

Women are wary of stresses and pressures with top-level jobs.

Regardless of family life, women with and without children cited “stress/pressure” as their main concern about accepting senior roles. However, the company found that mothers were actually 15 percent more likely to want a top executive role than their childless peers. Fathers, McKnisey found, were more unsure than their female counterparts as to whether or not they’d actually be successful in a top job.

Women aren’t being successfully mentored.

Mentors are key to success at work—about 17 percent of senior-level men credit four or more executives with helping their advancement, compared to 10 percent of senior-level women. There are racial disparities, too—only half of Black women say top executives supported them as they advanced, compared to two-thirds of their white, Asian, and Hispanic counterparts.

Men and women interpret their home responsibilities differently.

When asked how the childcare and chores were split at home, women were consistently more likely to say they did more than their husbands, even at the highest-level—except when it came to senior-level employees and childcare. Then, 27 percent of women said they did more for childcare, compared to 37 percent of senior-level men. As men moved up the ladder, they were generally less likely to say they did more of the work—only four percent of senior-level men said they took on more chores at home, compared to 30 percent of senior-level women.

Once they reach the top, they aren’t always happy.

When McKinsey surveyed senior-level women, they found that only 28 percent were satisfied with their job, compared to 40 percent of senior-level men who were happy at their position.

Plus: See our survey and find out how ambitious women really are at work.