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Toxic culture not glass ceiling is main reason women leave corporates

Article by: | Published: 18 June 2012

New survey shows; Culture and values clash is main reason women quit corporate life and two thirds of those earning less say they would not return even for more money.

A new survey of 300 women entrepreneurs shows that the main reason they leave corporate jobs is that they are fed up with the toxic culture, and not with the glass ceiling as is widely believed. Almost a quarter of participants (23 percent) cite the culture and values clash as their main reason for leaving, while less than 1 per cent identify the glass ceiling. Surprisingly, of the 68 percent of women who earn less than when they were in corporate employment, almost two thirds say they would not go back to corporate life even though they are unhappy with their current income level. The survey was conducted online and results analysed by Wendy Kerr, a business coach who specialises in advising women who leave the corporate world to run their own business. Commenting on the findings, Wendy said, ‘At a certain stage in their lives, women realise that the traditional work in corporate environments doesn’t work for them any more. They are tired of putting up with the toxic culture and they start to disengage, valuing their time and autonomy above their salary and job. This is the catalyst for them to leave and set up their own enterprises. She continued, ‘What has surprised me about these results is how strongly this theme has played out. Even if they were offered more money to get a corporate job again, most of them would not accept, preferring control of their future, their time and their environment over the cash.’

Survey participant Trisha Proud of Partners in Solutions Ltd said, ‘After a hugely successful career I decided to leave and set up my own business because I was fed up and disappointed at people not ‘walking the talk’ when it came to managing people and truly honouring the values that they regularly spoke about, but didn’t necessarily live and breathe on a day-to-day basis. After six years of trading I have no regrets.’ Other survey participants echoed this theme. One commented, ‘There was a disconnect between my values and the corporate world’s values’ and another said, ‘I got tired of wasting time on political activity versus actually doing the job.’

Other interesting findings include: As well as the 23 percent leaving because of the toxic culture, a further fifth (21 percent) of respondents left to gain more autonomy and control of their destiny. Almost a fifth (19 percent) left because of redundancy. Nine percent said that raising children was their key reason for leaving their corporate jobs and only 17 percent are earning more than they did in their corporate job. Women business owners surveyed are not born entrepreneurs but rather women who stepped out of the corporate world for a career that would meet their needs on their terms. The transition is not easy, money is often erratic at the beginning and they are unprepared for the sheer volume and variety of work encountered in running their own business.

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