By this point in the pandemic, there is no shortage of data revealing that the impacts of its burden have disproportionately impacted the most vulnerable segments of the population.
Among those segments are women in the workplace, and the overwhelming brunt of the load they’ve had to carry while also simultaneously managing homecare and childcare needs. The impact of these challenges — both on working women and on workplaces — was explored in recently published research from Concordia University.
What impact has the pandemic had on women in the workplace?
The study cites a report by RBC that shows women are 12 times more likely to leave their jobs to care for their family members, such as children or elderly parents.
The researchers also found that women were more likely to leave their jobs during the pandemic than men, and that this had a negative effect on factors like company culture, revenue and the global GDP growth.
Similarly, women were also more likely to have lost their jobs during the pandemic, despite the fact that companies acknowledge that employing women brings benefit to business. The study suggests that employers are not adapting to inclusivity practices that would enable women to continue their employment.
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The researchers also found that, even when women don’t leave, their work still suffers due to the additional responsibilities at home. The cost of doing nothing in light of this finding could be an estimated $1 trillion in lost earning potential towards the GDP by 2030.
How can employers better support women in the workplace right now?
By contrast, the researchers found that strategies like flexible schedules and teleworking could help better support women through this period. According to a report used by the researchers, such steps, as well as other measures like education and family planning initiatives, could contribute up to $13 trillion to the global GDP.
Specifically, the researchers identified teleworking as one great step towards better supporting women in the workplace; by removing the need to commute to work, women not only save time, it enables them to remain at home where they can attend any family situations that urgently require their attention. The added note here is that employees who work from home should also not experience any disadvantages over those who get in-person time with their employers.
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Flexible work hours that allow employees to create their own schedule also benefit women, who often take on the overwhelming portion of domestic work at home, while also supporting employers who benefit from employees working during times they are most productive and focused.
Still, the researchers were careful to note that such solutions may not work for everyone – particularly those in lower income brackets who may lack the space and the quiet to work from home.
The study also noted that the pandemic has disproportionally affected ethnic minorities, young workers and those who identify as LGBTQ+.
“If these measures drop off, it will not be a short-term problem,” Shirin Emadi-Mahabadi, one of the co-authors of the study said in a statement. “In five or 10 years, whenever the next crisis hits, where will we be then?”