The 2020s have introduced a complete disruption of workforce needs. Companies struggling to retain and find talent while addressing the global digital skills shortage are now facing the “Great Breakup.” Women are leaving their companies because they are overworked, underpaid, and lack avenues for career growth.

According to a McKinsey study, 35% of white women said they plan to leave their jobs in the next three to six months; the rate jumps to 46% for women of color. Career prospects worsen for millions of frontline employees, who are disproportionately women and people of color.

Companies have a long way to go to achieve gender equity. But, there is one lever employers can pull that offers women access to equitable career growth opportunities: professional development.

Professional development programs are inexpensive compared to the cost of turnover and something the frontline workforce wants. They also address other workforce disruptors like critical skill gaps and talent shortages.

Table of Contents

How to improve retention rates amongst female employees?

4 Tips improve retention rates and career mobility prospects for female employees

  • Prioritize Upskilling
  • Invest in HR technology to uncover diverse talent
  • Make professional development affordable
  • Consider career coaching or mentorship programs

How can Pathstream help businesses cultivate a strong DEIB culture?

When female frontline workers see a path to advancement, they are more likely to stay.

Lack of career development or advancement within a company surpassed salary as the leading reason frontline employees quit their jobs. Women make up two-thirds of the frontline workforce. Sixty-five percent of female frontline workers are unaware or unsure how to achieve career success.

To move beyond these statistics, companies need to identify roadblocks that prevent them from retaining and leveraging more women in their workforce. Then apply that awareness to make systematic, cascading changes in their organization.

Skillsoft conducted a multi-national survey of women to learn how to close organizational gender gaps. Nearly 86% of those surveyed ranked professional development and training opportunities as “very” or “extremely” important. While most respondents desire these opportunities, only 42% of organizations offer this as an employee benefit.

Professional development programs improve retention and employee engagement. When Amazon Career Choice began offering Pathstream’s online certificate programs to employees, they saw an increase in job applicants. Employee retention also improved by 208% compared to non-participating Amazon warehouse employees.



4 Recommendations to increase career mobility and improve retention rates.

We’ve compiled a list of strategies forward-thinking HR leaders employ to cultivate a robust DEIB culture organization-wide.

Prioritize upskilling programs, especially for frontline employees.

Upskilling frontline workers improves a company’s top and bottom lines. It can be up to 10 times cheaper to upskill a current employee than to recruit, hire, and onboard a new person. Offering upskilling opportunities to frontline employees helps a company fill internal vacancies. Employees who complete an educational program can demonstrate competency in new skills and transition to new roles.

Companies can take advantage of untapped female talent and ensure that women aren’t disproportionately losing jobs. In addition, women who complete targeted upskilling programs are better positioned to advance their careers. Women make up over 60% of Pathstream’s learners. According to data retrieved from Pathstream’s Student Outcomes Survey, on average, female learners receive two new career opportunities after completing our certificate programs and earn $20 thousand more annually.




Use technology to uncover diverse talent.

Your most diverse employees often work in frontline desk roles such as customer service representatives, bank tellers, or insurance claim assistants. Preconceived biases about frontline employees have hindered their career advancement for too long and pushed diverse female talent out of companies.

To create a robust DEIB culture, organizations invest in all-in-one career mobility solutions that combine professional development, career guidance, and skills-building to nurture and promote diverse talent. Technology can help retain, bring back, promote and hire more women across an organization.

Career mobility platforms integrated with applicant tracking and employee reporting systems show business leaders the hidden, transferable skills within their organizations in real-time. Organizations that use these new talent pipeline tools can implement more precise upskilling strategies to strengthen talent management and development strategies.

Make professional development affordable for all.

More than one-thirds of female frontline employees live in low-income families. Truly democratizing access to career advancement means covering the costs of different types of professional development. Large employers like Starbucks, McDonald’s, PepsiCo, and Dollar General are just a handful of enterprises that have ramped up their investment in their frontline workforce. These companies offer professional development through education benefits, tuition reimbursement policies, certificate programs, and career coaching.

In 2021, Amazon began working with Pathstream to provide warehouse workers access to a data analytics program. Amazon aimed to facilitate career advancement for frontline employees into data analyst positions. They subsequently expanded their engagement with Pathstream to include a sales operations program in 2022.

The program increased retention rates and improved digital skill proficiencies by 111% among employees enrolled in our programs. Participating employees reported countless ways in which they were able to apply the concepts they learned immediately in their current roles throughout the program.

Women and minorities made up over 70% of program participants. Upon program completion, participants reported increased self-confidence and career clarity. These individuals transitioned to various analytics-related roles, including Process Analyst, Business Analyst, Data Analyst, Human Resource analytics, and Operations Manager.

Click here for seven elements of the most successful education benefits programs.



The benefits of career guidance.

Career navigation is an essential component of career development. Effective career guidance begins with a deep understanding of how personal skills, proficiencies, and years of experience will contribute to professional goals in the long term. It also requires an awareness of the next steps to the ultimate destination and the flexibility to pivot when necessary to remain both on track and motivated to continue the career pathway.

This is a challenging task for a junior or mid-career employee. Companies that invest in offering career guidance services through career coaches or employee mentorship programs can solve this problem and introduce an array of valuable benefits for the entire organization.

Within an organization, mentors can help new employees get acclimated to the company’s culture and expectations, offer career advice, or serve as a sounding board for employees seeking candid conversations about their careers.

For employees who identify as women or members of a minority demographic, the support of a mentor can offer an authentic, physical illustration of diversity within a company and representation in senior-level leadership. In many ways, the adage “seeing is believing” holds true for these employees who may feel that growth within their organization will be more challenging to achieve.

A career coach differs from a mentor. Instead, a career coach works with professionals to assess their personal interests, experience, proficiencies, and current workplace trajectory to help build a list of job targets that best satisfy these three variables. Career coaches also help identify professional barriers, such as required skills, education, or experience level. The best career coaches cultivate their client’s confidence and self-awareness to be their own coaches.


mentoring employees


At Pathstream, we help employees gain valuable skills and prepare them for promotions. This helps diversify mid-career workers at organizations where there is often a diversity cliff.

Pathstream is a frontline career mobility platform that transforms today’s frontline workers into tomorrow’s future-ready talent.

We combine skill-driven career pathing, personalized coaching, and digital upskilling to help frontline employees get ready for the digital future – all in one seamless location. We’ve helped 20+ Fortune 500 companies, including Amazon, Walmart, JP Morgan, and Chipotle, reduce their turnover costs by as much as $30k per employee. Pathstream can help transform your frontline workforce into the tech talent needed to grow your business. 

When partnered with Pathstream, employers can:

  • Curate a catalog of education offerings customized to meet your organization’s recruiting, retention, and capability enhancement goals
  • Immediately increase the volume and quality of job applications with our recruitment assets and campaign support
  • Leverage our in-depth analytics to monitor employee engagement and measure the ROI of your education benefits portfolio
  • Attract the most ambitious and committed candidates

Learn the ins and outs of our frontline career development programs by requesting a demo today.


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