Employed Women in the Covid 19 Era – How to Make the Work Environment More Flexible and Fair for Them
2020 turned out to be a year full of challenges on the way to professional or personal life. The Covid 19 pandemic has changed the way of life of the world population and shifted the current events from the public space to a fully virtual world. Nor is it news that the workspace has shifted from well-appointed offices to our own homes, and the practice of remote work has taken on a systematic look. The pandemic has been particularly devastating for women and even more so for mothers who have to care for children left home without a kindergarten or school. These problems make business people think that it is necessary to take clear steps to keep women in the workplace.
According to the UN Global Compact Academy, the vast majority of health care workers in the world are women who are at the forefront of fighting the pandemic today; More than half of employed women have informal or unsustainable jobs, which increases their risk of dismissal; The global gender pay gap is 16% worldwide, which makes women more vulnerable to economic activity; Added to this is unpaid labor – the pandemic that has left 850 million children worldwide in need of extra care and attention.
The Women in the Workplace 2020 report by McKinsey & Company, one of the most influential American consulting firms and the world community Lean In, clearly showed that due to the covid19 impact, every fourth woman is thinking about leaving a workplace or switching a job.
We might think that statistics are just numbers, but given that there are real people behind it, with real problems, then those numbers will take on a lot more weight. These people tell the real problems in the Women in the Workplace study themselves and point out that being a good mother and a good employee simultaneously is very difficult and even impossible in such circumstances. While the job requires maximum mobilization and indefinite working hours from you, next door – your child needs help preparing lessons, eating, or craves attention; If these women have never thought about quitting jobs or changing careers before, after Covid 19, this issue is definitely on their agenda.
In the wake of the pandemic, there are many examples of women facing personal or work problems. It is more important to observe what is being done now and what needs to be done in the future to improve the daily lives of those affected by the pandemic in recent months.
Together with the representatives of the healthcare sector in the fight against Covid 19, the step taken by each citizen can be decisive. One of the main roles in the economic struggle is played by the business sector. The business sector should help create a more flexible and equitable work environment for women, which will solve the above-mentioned problems in full or at least in part.
As McKinsey & Company & Lean in 2020’s Women in the Workplace report shows, some companies around the world have already taken the first steps toward these changes, reaching out to their employees first during the Covid 19 crisis – they actively provide detailed business information on the renewal of the financial situation and the policy of paid leave; they have expanded mental health services to include counseling programs; Team leaders were offered training in employee mental health and well-being support; Also, these companies provided employees with additional resources to improve remote work.
Despite these changes, a small list of companies worldwide has already taken real steps for women’s well-being affected by the pandemic. So far, only dialogue is taking place on how important it is to keep employed women in the workplace and what steps need to be taken to achieve this goal.
Everyone agrees that the most important things in this situation are: open communication with employed women and identifying their problems; Flexible work schedule and paid leave, which will allow them more time and resources to settle personal matters; Offer safe childcare options for working mothers or support existing ones; Most importantly, increase the involvement of women in decision-making, which will lead to more diverse and fruitful results for the advancement of the business sector and, consequently, for the improvement of the world economic situation.
Leading US provider EverythingBenefits asked business people how they can find ways to solve the pandemic problems for employed women. As it turned out, their visions of solving these problems are very similar to each other. Joy Price, CEO of JumpStart Hr Human Resources Outsourcing, believes that in general, and especially in times of crisis, it is essential to control discriminatory practices and respect employed women’s rights.
Staff training and retraining will create a better and safer work environment in the current situation, which will allow employed women to express their problems boldly. Charlene Walters, a business and entrepreneurial coach, also sees a solution in open dialogue and the best support for employed women, noting that employed women obviously have to do their job, but must have a flexible work schedule, which can be managed by reducing working hours, redistributing workload, etc.
As the world fights the global pandemic and the economic crisis, new risks to gender diversity will emerge, which may lead to a gradual decline in the world community’s progress in this area.
However, there are more positive expectations that drastic steps taken in a critical situation will bring quick and fruitful results and create a better work environment for employed women than before the pandemic. Whether these drastic steps will be taken and whether the work environment will become more flexible and fair for employed women, time will tell.
Author: Gvantsa Bziava