The McKinsey Global Institute’s report on COVID-19 and Gender Equality confirm what many economists have observed: “By our calculation, women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s jobs. Women make up 39 percent of global employment but account for 54 percent of overall job losses. 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.”
A panel hosted on NPR on the growing gender gap noted that “More than 2 million women left the labor force in 2020. Women are now at the lowest workforce participation level since 1988. Job losses in female-dominated industries like hospitality have forced many women out of work, and others, faced with the difficulty of balancing child care with paid work, have quit.”
After reviewing possible scenarios to remedy the regression of trends regarding women in the workplace, McKinsey Global Institute recommends that policy makers and business leaders push for greater gender equality, which would not only benefit women, but overall economic growth.
So, how can your nonprofit respond?
Forbes’ Tracy Brower compiled a list of ways that your organization can respond to the growing gender gap:
Make Gender Diversity a Priority:
Tanea Flanders, Executive Director of Learning and Development for Columbia University articulates this commitment, “Conscious business leaders must be creative and intentional in supporting women who must now find new ways to be visible and engaged in what for many will remain hybrid workplace, while continuing to bear the weight of post-pandemic transitions back to work and school for their families.”
Empowerment and Equality:
Find out how you can adopt the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles.
Organizational Culture and Systems:
Lisa Britt, Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer for Thermo Fisher Scientific, notes the importance of intervening to address unconscious bias in recruiting, selecting, onboarding, and promoting your staff. “I would encourage companies to evaluate their ‘difference makers’ during this pandemic and invest differentially in their careers—when that happens, most certainly, more women will be recognized.”
Develop a Holistic Approach to Employee Well-Being:
Flanders also notes that “More than any other time in history it is imperative for leaders to cultivate organizational cultures of wellness that affirm employees’ cognitive, emotional, financial and physical lives.”
Consider investing in employee wellbeing, offering support during childcare emergencies, flexibility around working schedules, and reminders that mentally and physically healthy employees do the best work.
The first step is acknowledging the negative impact that the pandemic has had on women in the workplace, and to find the ways that your organization can work to remedy the problem.