Women more likely to leave top jobs, reports Institute of Student Employers

A survey by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) has found that retention is generally high across graduate (72%) and school leaver (75%) programmes after three years, but that there is a higher propensity to leave among certain groups such as women and people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

In the ISE Student Development Survey 2020 a quarter of firms reported that women are more difficult to retain than men once they have completed their initial training and development programmes.

Employers suggested that this is influenced by the image and culture of their sector, a lack of role models and because the entry-level hires do not believe that they can progress within the industry as well as reasons outside of their control such as the disproportionate likelihood of women taking on family and caring responsibilities.

ISE Chief Executive Stephen Isherwood said: “Despite all of the investment and resource spent on tackling the gender gap, women are still underrepresented across the graduate employment market. We know that female students are less likely to apply for graduate roles and are therefore underrepresented on early careers programmes. This now tells us that they are also less likely to stay in an organisation. To tackle disparity we must not only look at who gets in, but who gets on.”

Sarah Anderson, Graduate Recruitment Manager at Newton Europe added: “Recruitment is only half the battle to increase gender diversity and retention of women is a struggle for many organisations. To combat this we are improving our parental leave policy and working towards gender pay equality. We aim to ensure that women make up 30% of our leadership roles by 2023, rising to 40% by 2028.”

The ISE survey also reported that 17% of employers found people from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) background more difficult to retain while 12% reported similar issues with those who had experienced mental health issues during their training programme and 7% found people with disabilities more difficult to retain.

On average firms reported that they retain over half (57%) of graduates compared to 69% of non-graduates after five years.

In general the survey found that while pay is an important factor, the main reasons that people leave are all related to career change and progression; either staff cannot find a way to advance their career within the firm or they find that they can advance their career more effectively elsewhere.

Stephen added: “While employers don’t want or expect to retain entry-level staff forever, as some degree of turnover is healthy, relatively high levels of retention are often indicative of job satisfaction and employee engagement. This is particularly important for student employers who are making substantial investments in the development of graduates and apprentices and hope to retain them until this initial outlay is recovered.”

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