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how bosses can create workplace cultures that are better for working women
How leaders can create workplace cultures that are better for working women
There are plenty of articles about why working women have been disproportionately affected by the global pandemic. I don’t wish to cover old ground in this post, because we all know there is a global she-cession. What I do want to do is to advise leaders on how to create workplace cultures that are much better for working women. 
 
Why? Because women are at a tipping point due to the impacts of the pandemic. If women are at a tipping point, then according to the well-proven business case for gender equality, so is business. And society in general.
 
When more women work, economies grow. Women’s economic empowerment boosts productivity, increases economic diversification and income equality in addition to other positive development outcomes.International Monetary Fund
 

The Brutal Truths About Working Women

how bosses can create workplace cultures that are better for working women
Deloitte: Understanding
the pandemic’s impact
on working women
 
Millions of women have been pushed out of the workforce or forced to downsize their careers due to a range of factors related to the pandemic. Whilst it is dubbed a global “she-cession”, I want leaders to understand how the gains we have all made for global workplace gender equality are being eroded before our very eyes.
 
 
 
“Across the globe, women earn less, save less, hold less secure jobs, are more likely to be employed in the informal sector. They have less access to social protections and are the majority of single-parent households. Their capacity to absorb economic shocks is therefore less than that of men.” Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on Women
 
At the time of writing this, my hometown of Melbourne is navigating its fourth hard lockdown since the onset of the pandemic.  It will be yet another blow for the hard-fought inroads into workplace gender equality. In too many cases, this will have disastrous consequences on the lifetime earnings and financial security of women.
 

3 Things Leaders Must Do (now)

They must act! Unless leaders act to improve the workplace culture, policies and lived experience of women, then the recovery from the global pandemic will be delayed for both business and society.
 
Matthias Doepke who is a Professor of Economics at Northwestern University says “it’s not about one single thing” in reference to the exodus of women from the global workforce. So here are some questions to ask at the next board and/or executive team meeting:  
 
1. Do the board and the executive team regularly review the representation and lived experience of women in the workplace?
 
Track talent-related data! Boards and Executives must insist on regular reports about the talent-related decisions as part of their risk and opportunity register process. By regularly reviewing the quantitative data associated with job losses, both voluntary and involuntary, promotion rates, hiring rates along with the qualitative data from focus groups, business leaders can maintain a vigilant approach towards gendered regressive impacts within their company
 
2. Has a gender equality lens been applied to all talent-related decisions before and during the pandemic
 
Attitudes also shape how women experience the economic consequences of a crisis relative to men. These aren’t new beliefs but rather traditional societal mindsets about the role of women. They may be reflected in current decisions, at the organizational level or indeed within the family, about who gets to keep their jobs. For example, according to the global World Values Survey, more than half the respondents in many countries in South Asia and MENA agreed that men have more right to a job than women when jobs are scarce. About one in six respondents in developed countries said the same. McKinsey
 
Mindsets matter, when restructuring, retrenchments, redeployments, and downsizing strategies are being developed. How is your organisation ensuring that gender bias is being called out to mitigate the unfair impact on women
 
3. Is the organization’s approach to family working for all people? (not just women)
 
A flex work policy is one thing. But leaders must understand that flexible and remote working is not just a ‘women’s issue’.  Gendered attitudes prevent more men than women from asking for flexible work arrangements. Workplace flexibility bias (the belief that people at their workplace are unlikely to get ahead if they take leave or work flexibly) affects all genders attitudes to their workplace and has massive implications for women engagement at work, their intentions to stay or leave their jobs, their ability to balance their work and personal lives, and even their health. In other words, if more men ask for flex work arrangements and as a consequence,  ‘shared the care’ in the home, then more women would be enabled to participate more fully (and potentially joyfully) in the workforce. Organizations must step up action towards a family-friendly workplace that enables flexible and remote working.   
 
These are a few of the strategies that inclusive, progressive leaders are implementing.  As already stated, working women are at a tipping point right now. So are organizations and society. Now is the time to enact the recovery plan to get women back into the workforce. Not just because of the talent and representation women bring to the table, but because of the long-term consequences to women’s finances, which can trickle down for generations
 
For a confidential discussion about how to move gender equality in your workplace from conversation to action, book a time for a chat HERE.