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Is your Company Afraid you’ll Leave if they don’t Promote you?

Are you sitting down? Perhaps somewhere where nobody can hear you scream? Then read the research finding below……

It’s all about the scoring of ‘potential’ that many organisations conduct alongside ‘performance scoring’.  Women score lower on potential than men, irrespective of their performance scores (and later to be proved wrong when they are promoted and excel). 

However, it seems that companies score men more highly on potential because they think they are more likely to leave, even if they are not strong performers.

‘Taken together, it appears that the firm grants higher potential scores to men who are less likely to perform well in the future and more likely to leave the firm altogether.’

Clearly this is bonkers!

So let’s unpack that and ask some questions.

  • Women have higher performance scores but are less likely to be promoted
  • Companies are more afraid that men will leave than that women will leave
  • Do companies value lower-performing men so much that they would rather risk their higher-performing women leaving when not promoted?
  • Do companies think women are more replaceable?
  • Or is fear of churn so great that companies would rather promote low-performing people than lose them?
  • And why are men 35-40% more likely to leave if passed over for promotion?
  • And women less likely to re-apply?
  • What is it that lower-performing men do to increase their worth/signal their propensity to leave?
  • Or is it just simple social proof/scarcity bias/loss aversion?


Again it seems that ability is far from the most important criterion for being promoted. It’s hard to accept but we need to do so. It’s time to consider if you are being taken for granted.

  • Does the company know of your achievements for the business?
  • Does the company know you won’t sell yourself short and are prepared to move to realise your aspirations?
  • Are you backing yourself?

Many (most?) women hate the idea of self-promotion, but there are subtle yet powerful ways of ensuring the business knows your worth.

The first is knowing it yourself, of course!


1) Develop an external profile  I have known women shy away from developing an external profile as they don’t want to seem egotistical or to stand out.  But if you are obviously out in the world especially if you’re spruiking the company, its achievements and your thinking and success, it’s clear you may be vulnerable to headhunters. 

This should increase social proof and scarcity bias in your favour. If you hide yourself away, there’ll be less concern that other companies will find you. If you post on LinkedIn and others engage with you, you’re proving your desirability to others and will seem to have greater potential and value.

2) Form relationships with your seniors and those who will influence your promotion and demonstrate your worth to them.  As a client of mine said once, ‘I got them all awards. … I  got him an award, I got her an award.’  Ensure it’s obvious what value you are bringing to the organisation and those who run it.  Can you generate good PR for the organisation?  This will strengthen your profile internally and externally.

3) Stop being a good schoolgirl  We know schoolgirls are rewarded for being quiet and getting on with their work, not making a fuss or drawing attention to themselves.  Their reward is good marks and social approval  We need to unlearn this as this behaviour does not deliver the reward we deserve in the world of work.

The first step is to wholeheartedly back yourself and stop being a people-pleaser!

CLICK HERE to book an informal chat to discuss your journey and decision

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Sara Garcia

I’m a women’s leadership coach working with mid/senior professionals to help them develop the skills and mindsets they need to create the professional life they want.

I use proven psychological and business techniques to empower women, help them overcome challenges, grab opportunity and thrive.