COVID-19 is having a significant impact on the corporate workplace. With many people slowly returning back to work, there will be many changes in how we relate and engage with one another in the office. However, the most worrying change could be the notable absence of women.
A recent McKinsey report shows that the pandemic is having a regressive effect on gender equality as women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to the current crisis than men’s jobs.
Statistics show that women were more likely to work in sectors that completely shut down due to national lockdowns. Also, as a result of COVID-19, mothers were 47% more likely to have permanently lost their jobs or resigned. This is due to the fact that mothers are three times more likely than fathers to be responsible for childcare and housework.
It is not a surprise that women have been more vulnerable to COVID-19-related economic effects. More so due to the already existing gender inequalities in the workplace – Despite the increase in women pursuing higher education globally, there still remains a gender gap between higher educated women and men in the workplace.
Here are the latest statistics on how the pandemic has and is affecting women in the workplace:
- Women are 1.3 times more likely than men to consider stepping out of the workforce or slowing down their careers.
- Due to the pandemic, 5% of women’s employment is at risk globally, compared to 3.8% of men’s employment.
- 46% of mothers were made redundant or expected to be made redundant. Lack of childcare provision played a major role (UK).
- 51% of mothers did not have childcare in place to enable them to do their jobs (UK).
- 75% of furloughed male employees had their wages topped up beyond the 80% government cap provided for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, in comparison to 65% of female employees (UK).
- Black women over 20-years saw 14% unemployment in June 2020, compared to 10.3% unemployment for White women.
- Black women have been facing additional challenges from both COVID-19 and recent events of racial injustice. They are three times more likely than non-Black women to report the death of a loved one as a recent challenge.
After the pandemic, many women might not return to work or will most likely choose to work from home. This means that offices may become even more male-dominated which will add to the existing gender inequality in the corporate workplace.
What do companies need to be aware of and what are some of the actions to take?
It’s important for companies to take note of these changes and to rethink work norms. Companies might need to look into redesigning workplaces and create opportunities where there is more work-life flexibility, especially for mothers. Can work hours be adjusted to accommodate mothers who do not have childcare? Or can companies potentially invest in workplace day-cares?
The above statistics reveal that there’s still a lot that needs to be done when it comes to closing the gender (pay) gap. More qualified women need to be placed in management job positions and earn just as much as their male colleagues. Women play an essential part in the workplace. The risk of losing the unique and diverse talents that women bring to the table could have a negative impact not only on many organisations but on society in general.