Now that many employers are bringing back in-person work, it looks like many women are finding themselves at a career crossroads — and are considering opting to leave their jobs rather than face additional stressors that inflexible work arrangements would bring.
According to The Prosperity Project’s Canadian Household Perspectives survey, nearly half of the Canadian women respondents (45 per cent to be exact) said that they would likely leave their job if it meant that working from home at least a few days a week was no longer an option.
Forgoing career progress
And when it comes to progressing in their career, 63 per cent also said they would turn down a promotion if it meant they could continue working from home in their current role. Clearly, flexible work arrangements hold a lot of value for women in the workforce, even over a more senior job title and presumably higher pay.
Looking to the future of work
Further still, a whopping 91 per cent said they would prefer to keep working remotely the majority or at least some of the time into the future. “As organizations create post-pandemic work strategies, this research sheds light on what women are thinking and feeling about work and their careers. A majority would like the flexibility offered during the pandemic to continue, specifically the option to work remotely some of the time,” CEO of The Prosperity Project Andrea Spender said in a release.
The survey was conducted in mid-May 2022 in partnership with CIBC and Enterprise Canada, and looked at 800 employed women across the country.
You may also like: How to prepare your pandemic puppy for your return to work.
These insights are critical as employers plan their return-to-work strategies, so that women in the workforce aren’t left behind as the world reopens. Previous research too has identified that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women in the workforce, with many taking on the bulk of home and childcare.
Although 73 per cent of the survey’s respondents acknowledged their employer was more accommodating during the pandemic, 72 per cent expected their employers to prioritize in-person work. “This research tells us some changes brought about by the pandemic were actually improvements for working women,” added Vice-President Lesli Martin in the release. “Amid this uncertainty, many Canadian working women are understandably apprehensive about their future.”
Having to make tough choices
The survey revealed that 52 per cent of working women with kids under the age of 18 noted that balancing their career with being a good parent is a major barrier to a full return to in-person work. Eighteen per cent shared they were outright worried about how they would find the right balance if forced to choose.
While almost 60 per cent of the women surveyed said they feel they will need to make a choice between their career and their family, more than half (55 per cent) said they are the primary caregiver in their household, while only seven per cent said their partner is. A further 35 per cent said they share the responsibility.
“Canada’s economic growth needs women contributing. Enabling women to balance their careers and home responsibilities – through hybrid home/office work and other adjustments, with equal opportunity for promotion and advancement – is a critical priority,” Pamela Jeffery, founder of The Prosperity Project, said in the release.