Will the Pandemic Set Back Gender Equality?
Being a working mother is challenging enough. But ever since the pandemic hit, it’s more stressful than ever before.
The professional gender gap is a “motherhood” gap
According to The New York Times, the majority of professional gender gaps are caused by motherhood: Women who don’t have children are much closer to career parity with men when it comes to promotions and salaries than women who require flexibility or shorter hours in order to take care of their families.
How the pandemic is exacerbating the situation
Due to the pandemic, childcare centers and schools are closed, which requires working mothers to find new solutions to juggling motherhood and work. Women who are already working full days now suddenly have to take care of and even teach their children during the day. Unfortunately, many find it impossible—and, faced with the choice between their career and their children, are losing or leaving their jobs. In fact, according to McKinsey, women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable than men’s at the moment.
How employers can help
Fortunately, employers can help rectify the situation. Here’s how, according to Harvard Business Review:
- They should start by tracking the data. Are more women requesting leave or losing their jobs? Are promotion rates among women slowing down?
- They should ensure that their hiring practices consider gender diversity. This can also involve making sure positions offer flexible working hours in order to make them more attractive to women.
- They should actively encourage women to participate in any reskilling programs. Reskilling is largely focused on technological skills—and for mothers who are working from home, those skills can mean the difference between promotion and career stagnation.
- They should look for opportunities to increase gender equity throughout their ecosystem. Instead of simply doing business as usual, they should consider whether or not their services and products are designed to counter the regressive effects of gender inequality.
Benefits of gender equality in the workplace
If all of this seems like a lot of effort to invest during an already challenging time, consider that diverse teams are more creative and productive than homogenous teams. In short, investing in women means investing in your company’s success.
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