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Are Women Opting Out of Corporate Careers?

CareerWomen.com Offers Tips for Preparing to Opt Back In

"Opting out," the new catch phrase within corporate circles, defines the rising trend towards leaving corporate positions for alternative career paths. Given this, CareerWomen.com recently conducted a poll to asked working women if they have opted out of corporate work, why they left and if they plan to return. With a labor shortage predicted in the coming decade, employers at leading corporations could be looking for those that "opted out" to "opt back in".

In the CareerWomen.com survey, over 70 percent of respondents opted out of corporate work stating their top three reasons as taking off several years for family, pursuing non-profit or foundation work or taking a government position. Overwhelmingly, 62 percent revealed that they are not currently considering re-entering the corporate workforce.

In a previous survey on work/life balance, over 50 percent of women responded that they are not satisfied with their ability to handle the balancing act. According to CareerWomen.com, employers and employees need to strike a balance that meets the needs of the corporation and creates a satisfied workforce that is focused on contributing to the bottom line.

"While we are seeing an increase in women opting out of corporate positions, increasingly we're receiving good news from corporations on additional women and diversity programs," said JillXan Donnelly, President of CareerWomen.com. "Companies such as Honeywell, Raycom Media, Philip Morris, and BMW are setting a great example by providing career advancement opportunities for women while managing strong corporate growth."

To prepare for "opting back in" or to prevent the need to "opt out", CareerWomen.com suggests the following to working women:

  1. Look for workforce diversity programs by researching companies that have placed a priority on promoting women in the workplace.
  2. Find a good blend of mentors both in and out of the workplace. Having a mentor from Mars and another from Venus will provide a balanced perspective needed to succeed in and out of the workplace.
  3. Keep up with your network. If you leave a corporate position, hold on to email addresses and phone numbers of your co-workers and managers. Make a point to stay in touch and keep a pulse on your previous employer. Re-entry will be easier with this knowledge base.
  4. If you are re-entering the corporate workforce, evaluate and investigate the company's values to make sure that there is a match. A good values connection will ease decision-making, improve communication and provide a more comfortable work environment.
  5. If you opt out, do so gracefully. Leave your current position with open doors to re-entry by completing projects and allowing for a period of continued contact to resolve questions. Always leave thanking the company for the opportunity.

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