Women are leaving the workplace at an exceptional rate, according to the latest findings in McKinsey & Company‘s Women in the Workplace 2020 report . The challenge of gender parity has always been a hardship to women’s careers, but the recent COVID-19 pandemic has amplified this outmoded problem. Studies have revealed many companies are not adapting quickly enough to address the dire challenges and needs women in the workplace are facing. For many, working from home is the new normal. The need for women to be ‘always on’ for work and family synchronously is promoting burnout, anxiety, and health issues. This is a critical time for businesses and organizations to act and ensure an equitable workplace exists for women. This is also a critical time for women to be able to recognize companies that are well-suited for their own success.
Importance of an Equitable Workplace
If a company does not create and reinforce work environments that support gender parity, they are surrendering the expertise, talent, and ability of half of the modern workforce. Women on your team will bring insight and perspective to drive new solutions and innovations. Additionally, a gender-diverse company is better adapted to serving its increasingly diverse customer base.
Progress toward gender equality in the United States has slowed or stalled by the snowballing pressures on women ignited by the pandemic. The aforementioned study reveals some notable concerns:
- Mothers are more than twice as likely as fathers to worry that their performance is being judged negatively because of caregiving responsibilities.
- Women remained significantly outnumbered at the manager level in early 2020, with only 38% of women holding manager positions while men held 62%.
- As many as two million women are considering taking a leave of absence or leaving the workforce altogether, due to the escalating challenges fueled by COVID-19.
It’s Time to Persevere
Women are all too familiar the challenges we face in the workplace. If you happen to identify as a woman, you most likely have stories of being treated less favorably than our male counterparts. Often, women don’t feel empowered or emboldened in their own workplaces to take a stand and demand a change. However, now is the time to persevere for ourselves and fight for parity.
As women leaders, we must support women in the workplace and create a business culture that empowers and endorses women, fights biases, and establishes a much-needed balance. This is no small task, but rather a journey, and I encourage women to seek out companies that amplify their voices, acknowledge their achievements, and embrace the value they bring to the workplace.
At Bridge Partners, we are proud that more than half of our employees are women. We work hard to create an inclusive culture, celebrating gender diversity. As a woman in the workplace, I have realized traditional work expectations which challenge women and mothers, are not always necessary.
- You don’t have to work a set schedule (i.e., traditional 8am to 5pm) because many fields are flexible, especially those with remote work options.
- If full-time work doesn’t work for you, rest assured there is more workplace flexibility today and finding an adaptable employer may be simpler than you think.
- If you’re returning to work, perhaps from maternity leave, you do not have to settle for a lesser title. If you happened to be out while the annual increases were given, your employer should not get a discount because you were away from work at the time.
Spotting the Right Fit
Only you know what’s best for you, but here are some of the common factors to consider when it comes to spotting the right fit for women in the workplace:
Companies that truly care
Evaluate whether an organization supports the needs of women in the workplace and supports gender equality. Do they walk the talk? Their website is your best friend in determining if the company is committed to helping female employees thrive. Look for their public statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. If they aren’t promoting diversity and inclusion out to the public, they likely aren’t practicing it internally. Research their stance on corporate social responsibility and check their ‘about’ page for values or statements. Examine their leadership team to see if it demonstrates gender diversity.
Flexible work, that’s actually flexible
Remote work has been the norm due to the pandemic, but will companies keep up this flex workplace? Bridge Partners has embraced a fully remote workforce since its inception, which has rewarded us with a larger talent pool, an inclusive and diverse workplace, and higher retention. Companies should rethink their structure and adopt a modern model that supports a remote, or hybrid workplace. Companies like Salesforce, Microsoft, and Facebook announced plans for an ongoing hybrid workforce. Companies that don’t adapt to this future will fall behind in building and maintaining a diverse workforce.
Scheduling for the real world
Mothers are more than three times as likely as fathers to be responsible for the bulk of housework and caregiving duties. Women do not endorse this arrangement but have often had to acknowledge its reality. With typical pressures of household responsibilities compounded with closures of childcare and schools, women need flexibility at work. For some companies remote work may exist, but for it to be a truly remote work environment practices and policies need to be put in place to prevent employees from feeling like they’re “always on”, which leads to burnout, inefficiency, and employer dissatisfaction.
Time for Action
Now is the time for organizations and people to make a strong commitment to women in the workplace. It’s time to make an investment to fight biases and inequality that obstruct women from growing, succeeding, and staying in the workforce.
The call to action for business leaders is to create and foster a work culture that respects schedules and offers flexibility, without judgement.
Together, we must take swift action to squarely address today’s crisis and keep women leaders and workers in the workforce, while creating more opportunities for women to excel for generations to come. Have the courage to challenge your company, those around you, and most importantly, yourself. With International Women’s Day just around the corner, Bridge Partners is taking the opportunity to amplify this cause and choose to challenge the status quo to positively reshape our future. Join us here.