As we celebrate International Women’s Day and honor the women of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, it is important to understand we are at a crossroads for women in the workplace.
Covind-19 has taken a toll on everyone.
Who has been most negatively impacted by Covid-19?
Women—especially women of color—were more likely to have been laid off or furloughed during the Covid-19 crisis. Women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s jobs. Women make up 39% of global employment but account for 54%of overall job losses during the pandemic. One reason for this greater effect on women is that the virus is significantly increasing the burden of unpaid care, which is disproportionately carried by women. (McKinsey 2020).
1 in 4 women are contemplating what many would have considered unthinkable less than a year ago: downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce. (Lean-in 2020)
Part of this increased pressure and sentiments about leaving work or taking on less responsibility at work comes from the disproportionate burden of the household load on women, and particularly, women of color.
-Women in the workplace 2020
Reasons employees, and particularly women, are experiencing burnout during Covid-19:
- Lack of flexibility
- Higher performance standards, especially when the “only” in their positions
- Sharper criticisms and microaggressions
- Feeling like they need to be available to work at all hours, i.e., “always on”
- Housework, home-schooling and caregiving burdens due to Covid-19
- Worry that their performance is being negatively judged because of caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic
- Discomfort sharing the challenges they are facing with teammates or managers
- Feeling blindsided by decisions that affect their day-to-day work
- Feeling unable to bring their whole self to work
What can leaders do to help?
- Create opportunity for sustainable work-life integration
- Focus on outcomes not hours
- Check for gender biases in potential, performance and pay
- Adjust policies so that ALL can enjoy flexibility
- Strengthen psychological safety and build a high trust culture
- Understand that the employee experience is unique and personal, so ask questions to seek perspective
Gender equity takes collective action from all of us! We must first start by seeking perspective and understanding the challenges employees face, both in their professional and personal lives. Together, we can create a workplace where all thrive.