Workplace

Men are dropping the ball at work: New study shows women do more emotional labor

The 2021 Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey found that women are far more likely than men to help their teams manage time and work-life balance and provide emotional support.

A woman teleconferencing on a laptop in an office.

Senior leaders who identify as women were 60% more likely to provide emotional support to their teams and 26% more likely to help team members navigate work/life challenges, according to the report.

Photo: Luis Alvarez via Getty Images

Over the last year, emotional support, time management skills and work-life balance have become drastically more important and difficult in the workplace — and women leaders were far more likely than men to step in and do that work for their teams, according to the latest iteration of McKinsey and LeanIn.org's annual Women in the Workplace report.

Senior leaders who identify as women were 60% more likely to provide emotional support to their teams, 24% more likely to ensure their teams' workload is manageable and 26% more likely to help team members navigate work/life challenges, according to the report. In addition, about one in five women senior leaders spend a substantial amount of time on DEI work that is not central to their job, compared to less than one in 10 male senior leaders.

"I'm not so sure we thought we would find findings as strong as they were; I knew anecdotally that it was something that was happening," Rachel Thomas, the co-founder and CEO of LeanIn.org, told Protocol. "Women are showing up as stronger leaders. They're getting into the trenches, managing workloads, checking in, navigating the pandemic. We know that women often do invisible labor that doesn't get credited. That's what I think is so interesting, the constellation of areas where women are showing up as better leaders now," she said.

Previous iterations of the report haven't identified this trend likely because the data on emotional labor is tied to the "total reset" of work created by the pandemic in corporate environments, McKinsey's Lareina Yee, a leader in the workplace report research and the company's tech consulting sector, explained. "Women are doing far more of the emotional labor. So where are the guys?" she asked. "Companies are not a fair place if men hold two times the leadership roles and do less of the work."

While the report found that companies say they value employee well-being and mental health, most have not found ways to measure and reward the people who are doing the work in that area. 87% of companies reported that it is "very or extremely" critical that managers support employee well-being, and yet only 25% formally recognize this work "a substantial amount or great deal" in places like performance reviews and compensation. An almost identical pattern held true for people doing extra work for diversity, equity and inclusion. Yee hopes that companies will take this data and see it as an illustration of the gap between commitment and "operationalized" practical change.

There is also likely some tie between the data on the extra emotional work performed by women and the fact that 42% of women report being burnt out, compared to 35% of men. One in three women also said that they are considering downshifting their careers in response to the burnout.

Companies may fail to understand that their best talent will likely consider switching companies or even careers if they aren't rewarded and promoted for the extra and different work they've been doing over the last year. "That is on companies if they are not valuing it. They should not be surprised if women are pausing and reflecting. Women have totally stepped up during the pandemic, and now there are a lot of opportunities in the marketplace. They can take all that talent and bring it somewhere else," Thomas said. "If your performance metrics and soft incentives reward a profile of a leader from five years ago or a decade ago, that's not strategic. What's strategic is knowing what's going to matter going forward. You can turn a blind eye to it, but that's really only at your own peril."

The research also found that while tech worker roles have become pervasive across all industries, the same problems with representation of women in those roles have followed them from Silicon Valley. Only 34% of tech management roles are filled by women, and only 26% of SVPs in those areas are women, according to the report. "This is manufacturing, retail, health care, etc. It's so pervasive," Thomas said. "We don't want 2040 to look like 1980."

And to Yee, the most frustrating data point is likely the evidence that little has changed in terms of the daily experience of women of color in the workplace. While the rate of promotion for women of color to manager roles has increased by more than five percentage points, their experience of inclusion and welcoming culture has not.

"I am disappointed that we are not seeing progress in terms of day-to-day experience of women of color. Their judgement is questioned. They are talked over. Given the last year of focus on racial equity, given the real commitment of companies and of leaders to make change happen, it's not happening. We have to be pretty brutally honest about that," she said.

LA is a growing tech hub. But not everyone may fit.

LA has a housing crisis similar to Silicon Valley’s. And single-family-zoning laws are mostly to blame.

As the number of tech companies in the region grows, so does the number of tech workers, whose high salaries put them at an advantage in both LA's renting and buying markets.

Photo: Nat Rubio-Licht/Protocol

LA’s tech scene is on the rise. The number of unicorn companies in Los Angeles is growing, and the city has become the third-largest startup ecosystem nationally behind the Bay Area and New York with more than 4,000 VC-backed startups in industries ranging from aerospace to creators. As the number of tech companies in the region grows, so does the number of tech workers. The city is quickly becoming more and more like Silicon Valley — a new startup and a dozen tech workers on every corner and companies like Google, Netflix, and Twitter setting up offices there.

But with growth comes growing pains. Los Angeles, especially the burgeoning Silicon Beach area — which includes Santa Monica, Venice, and Marina del Rey — shares something in common with its namesake Silicon Valley: a severe lack of housing.

Keep Reading Show less
Nat Rubio-Licht

Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.

While there remains debate among economists about whether we are officially in a full-blown recession, the signs are certainly there. Like most executives right now, the outlook concerns me.

In any case, businesses aren’t waiting for the official pronouncement. They’re already bracing for impact as U.S. inflation and interest rates soar. Inflation peaked at 9.1% in June 2022 — the highest increase since November 1981 — and the Federal Reserve is targeting an interest rate of 3% by the end of this year.

Keep Reading Show less
Nancy Sansom

Nancy Sansom is the Chief Marketing Officer for Versapay, the leader in Collaborative AR. In this role, she leads marketing, demand generation, product marketing, partner marketing, events, brand, content marketing and communications. She has more than 20 years of experience running successful product and marketing organizations in high-growth software companies focused on HCM and financial technology. Prior to joining Versapay, Nancy served on the senior leadership teams at PlanSource, Benefitfocus and PeopleMatter.

Policy

SFPD can now surveil a private camera network funded by Ripple chair

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a policy that the ACLU and EFF argue will further criminalize marginalized groups.

SFPD will be able to temporarily tap into private surveillance networks in certain circumstances.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Ripple chairman and co-founder Chris Larsen has been funding a network of security cameras throughout San Francisco for a decade. Now, the city has given its police department the green light to monitor the feeds from those cameras — and any other private surveillance devices in the city — in real time, whether or not a crime has been committed.

This week, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved a controversial plan to allow SFPD to temporarily tap into private surveillance networks during life-threatening emergencies, large events, and in the course of criminal investigations, including investigations of misdemeanors. The decision came despite fervent opposition from groups, including the ACLU of Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which say the police department’s new authority will be misused against protesters and marginalized groups in a city that has been a bastion for both.

Keep Reading Show less
Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

Enterprise

These two AWS vets think they can finally solve enterprise blockchain

Vendia, founded by Tim Wagner and Shruthi Rao, wants to help companies build real-time, decentralized data applications. Its product allows enterprises to more easily share code and data across clouds, regions, companies, accounts, and technology stacks.

“We have this thesis here: Cloud was always the missing ingredient in blockchain, and Vendia added it in,” Wagner (right) told Protocol of his and Shruthi Rao's company.

Photo: Vendia

The promise of an enterprise blockchain was not lost on CIOs — the idea that a database or an API could keep corporate data consistent with their business partners, be it their upstream supply chains, downstream logistics, or financial partners.

But while it was one of the most anticipated and hyped technologies in recent memory, blockchain also has been one of the most failed technologies in terms of enterprise pilots and implementations, according to Vendia CEO Tim Wagner.

Keep Reading Show less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Fintech

Kraken's CEO got tired of being in finance

Jesse Powell tells Protocol the bureaucratic obligations of running a financial services business contributed to his decision to step back from his role as CEO of one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges.

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Kraken is going through a major leadership change after what has been a tough year for the crypto powerhouse, and for departing CEO Jesse Powell.

The crypto market is still struggling to recover from a major crash, although Kraken appears to have navigated the crisis better than other rivals. Despite his exchange’s apparent success, Powell found himself in the hot seat over allegations published in The New York Times that he made insensitive comments on gender and race that sparked heated conversations within the company.

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

Latest Stories
Bulletins