The Effect of the Pandemic on Women in the Workplace – It’s Time to Take Notice!
Over the past decade, U.S. companies have made slow yet measurable progress in the representation of women in leadership in corporate America. However, one of the largest studies of Women in the Workplace performed recently by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org shows that 1 in 4 women are now considering leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers due to Covid-19.
The report is based on insight and data from 317 companies employing more than 12 million people, along with survey responses from more than 40,000 individual employees.
As a woman-owned Colorado business, this is a negative trend in gender equality that J. Kent Staffing hopes to bring well-needed attention to. Companies need to pay attention to the additional challenges and stress that women in their organizations are encountering and open up lines of communication and support for their female workforce.
Senior Level Women Are Being Affected Disproportionately High
Senior-level women in the workforce are more likely than women at other levels to be mothers. They are also more likely to be in dual-career couples than senior-level men. This means they are trying to balance work and home without the extra support that a partner who doesn’t work often provides. Here are some other findings which support this plight for the senior-level woman:
- Working mothers are more than 3 times as likely as working fathers to be managing most of their family’s housework and caregiving during the pandemic.
- Women are twice as likely to worry that their performance at work will be judged negatively due to their caregiving responsibilities, and thus are far more likely to feel uncomfortable sharing work-life challenges with colleagues.
- Senior-level women are almost twice as likely as women at other levels to often be the only or one of the only women in the board room, which often comes with heightened scrutiny, such as needing to provide additional evidence of their competence.
Because of these factors, senior-level women are more likely than senior-level men to feel “always-on” and under pressure to work more. They are also 1.5 times as likely to think about leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers – and almost 3 in 4 cite burnout as a primary reason.
Women leaders are important in the workplace. Compared to men at the same level, senior-level women are more likely to mentor or sponsor women of color and are more likely to be allies to women of color. Women in leadership are also shown to be more likely to enlist their peers to support racial equality and take a public stand in support of it.
The Effects of the Pandemic on Black Women
Even before Covid-19, black women as compared to women of other races and ethnicities face more systemic barriers, receive less support from managers, and experience more discrimination. Now, in 2020, they are more than twice as likely as women overall to say that the death of a loved one has been one of their biggest challenges during the pandemic. Adding in the incidents of racial violence across the U.S., there has been a heavy emotional toll on all Black employees.
Black women report that, for many, work isn’t a supportive place. Compared to other employees, black women feel more excluded at work and are less likely to say they can bring their whole selves to work.
Moving Forward in Support of Business Women
Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company says, “This crisis for women is not going away, but the solutions are within reach. Companies need to adapt their strategies to more fully support women’s lives amidst a new world of work.”
If we don’t push the reset button now, we risk losing millions of women from the workforce and setting gender diversity back years. Let’s work together to make sure that doesn’t happen.
ASA Staffing Today, 10/6/2020, PRNewswire, 09/30/20. “Largest Study of Women in Corporate America Finds 1 in 4 Women Are Considering Leaving the Workforce or Downshifting Their Careers Due to Covid-19“.
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