How Data Is Helping To Resolve Supply And Demand Challenges

Perhaps one of the most sweeping outcomes of the 2020 pandemic has been its effect on the global ... [+]getty

Perhaps one of the most sweeping outcomes of the 2020 pandemic has been its effect on the global supply chain. From consumer goods to raw materials, products are either unavailable for purchase or take excessively long to reach their destinations. Even common grocery items like baby formula are becoming hard to find, as reported by CBS in an April 2022 report.

Analysts predict that the major supply and demand crunches will have less impact in the future, per CNBC. However, businesses and buyers aren’t content to wait until early 2023 to feel less of a pinch. They want answers now, and they’re getting them in the form of innovative uses of data and technology.

As it turns out, data—when utilized thoughtfully—has value in smoothing out supply chain hiccups. Below are several examples of how data is being tapped to tackle post-pandemic procurement and delivery issues.

1. Data is revealing where companies should focus their resources to satisfy customers.

Nothing is as frustrating for shoppers as being unable to get what they want. To better allocate resources and anticipate needs, some brands are leveraging real-time data analytics. Understanding in-the-moment demands enables teams to pivot and respond.

An example of this type of process is Chipotle’s use of Semarchy’s data management tool. After “The Great Carnitas Shortage of 2015,” the company realized that it needed to make adjustments to its supply chain. By aligning operations, communications channels, and ordering platforms, Chipotle found it could more easily stay ahead of supply chain issues. This has helped the company meet customer experience assumptions and avoid snags.

2. Data is reducing friction from delays in service industries.

Many services that followed more traditional in-person models were forced to embrace digitization during Covid. Many found that their internal processes weren’t ready for the challenges or consumer expectations of online transactions, though. For instance, some small to mid-sized financial lenders realized that they didn’t have the workflows or tools to streamline application processing. As a result, they risked falling behind their bigger competitors.

Data-driven software solutions from entities like publicly traded MeridianLink have helped fill this gap. MeridianLink, valued at over $2 billion, designed a data-rich platform to gather and process loans rapidly. Their platform has enabled nearly 2,000 financial institutions to swiftly turn around consumer loan applications without causing friction. Due to the improvement in efficiency backed by data, banks, credit unions, and mortgage lending houses can keep pace. In today’s strong real estate market, that’s a huge supply and demand advantage.

3. Data is freeing employees to concentrate more fully on supply chain management.

Overcoming major supply chain hurdles can only happen when thought leaders have the bandwidth to brainstorm. Regrettably, far too many of them are bogged down by repetitive tasks. If those tasks can be automated, they can take up far less time. The result is teams who can concentrate on solving high-level concerns.

For instance, consider digital pioneering company IBML and its Cloud Capture software. The software captures, identifies, and classifies information from any source such as a complex invoice or a standard customer return form. Once appropriately logged, the information becomes available to authorized users. This type of consistent data capture facilitates a less clunky document processing. It also frees executives, managers, and supervisors to divert attention toward pressing supply chain concerns.

The supply chain conundrum won’t be fixed overnight or even in a few months. Yet fresh, data-driven solutions can help companies undergo fewer stressors as a result of supply and demand interruptions.

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Source: How Data Is Helping To Resolve Supply And Demand Challenges

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One-Third of Businesses Plan To Raise Prices In The Coming Quarter

Over a third of all businesses (38%) anticipate raising the price of their goods or services by more than usual in the next three months, a similar result to March 2022, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Head of Industry Statistics, John Shepherd, said: “Most of these businesses were finding that increases in the cost of products and services (92 per cent) and fuel and energy costs (78 per cent) were leading factors for planned price increases.”

The other side

The survey results also showed nearly half (48 per cent) of all businesses have no plans to increase their prices over the next three months. “Of these businesses, nearly half (46 per cent) said it was to retain customers and 46 per cent said they had fixed-price contracts in place.” Mr Shepherd said.

The results also provided information about planned capital expenditure over the next three months. Almost one in five businesses (18 per cent) have planned capital expenditure in May 2022, consistent with findings in May 2021 (17 per cent). Nearly half (48 per cent) of businesses planning capital expenditure indicated it would be higher than what is usual for this time of year, fewer than a year ago when 59 per cent planned for higher expenditure.

The biggest Influencing factors on whether businesses were planning for capital expenditure were uncertainty about the future state of the economy (25 per cent) and supply chain disruptions (23 per cent).  Current inflation in Australia, as in much of the rest of the world, is the result of a combination of short-term and long-term factors and concerns about demand and supply.

The Reserve Bank of Australia previously raised the official cash rate for the first time in over 11 years from 0.1 per cent, which it had been at since November 2020, during the height of the Covid pandemic. It was raised to 0.35 per cent, which was higher than expected, and the RBA stated that additional increases were on the way.

Furthermore, the Russian war on Ukraine increased commodity prices significantly above pre-COVID levels. They produce more than one-tenth of the world’s oil and wheat.

By: Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

Source: One-third of businesses plan to raise prices in the coming quarter: Survey

Critics by Patricio Ibáñez, Ricardo González Rugamas, Sajal Kohli, and Eric Kuehl 

To understand the process of determining which price increases are fair and which are not, consider an example. A leading apparel retailer recently received price increases from suppliers for many of its primary brands, each citing the inflationary environment as the reason for the increase. The company wasn’t sure how it should respond.

This retailer needs to determine whether suppliers are passing along an increase that’s in line with inflation’s effect on the supplier’s costs. Although it’s not possible to answer this question exactly, the retailer can at least pressure test the increase by determining if it falls within a fair range.

To do this, it began by identifying the main cost inputs that have the highest level of change, especially in an inflationary environment. In this example, these cost inputs were commodities (such as cotton, polyester, spandex), as well as labor and transportation (such as import costs, shipping, and freight).

Second, it estimated the percentage of the total cost these inputs make up. We would expect that fabric makes up about 50 percent of the total cost of a men’s cotton T-shirt. It’s safe to assume that cotton fiber (which has a commodity index, making its cost relatively easy to research) makes up roughly one-third of the fabric’s cost.

Immediate commercial opportunities to mitigate volatility typically include maximizing spend on existing contracts whose prices aren’t indexed for inflation and requesting clawbacks on unindexed contracts that covered periods when commodity prices fell. Digital and analytics solutions can enhance cleansheet analysis to uncover how much purchases should cost for large parts of company spending, which lets managers quantify the extent to which inflationary pressure should affect supplier prices.

To improve future resilience, supplier collaboration can drive joint efficiencies and potentially help the organization look beyond price and at changes to quality or specifications or at finding ways to use less. Finally, companies can consider ramping up collaboration between pricing and procurement teams to weigh inflation’s possible effects on the prices the company charges its own customers.

The defensive, technical levers to respond to inflation include accelerating value engineering and adjusting batch sizes or order frequency. Reducing SKUs or high-cost features and attributes by modifying specifications is a potential medium-term technical lever that can help improve resilience. Depending on the sector, options to address volatility in the short-to-medium term include optimizing supplier footprints for better control over logistics, cost, tariffs, and inventory.

Longer-term volatility challengers could include strategic inventory stockpiling, relying more on vendor-managed inventory, expanding cross-industry collaboration to share commodity exposures, and partnering through the end-to-end supply chain to derisk certain nodes.

To approach suppliers in high-priority categories, a targeted playbook can help strengthen negotiation strategies, with pressure testing via mock negotiation sessions that anticipate potential supplier counterarguments…

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The Pandemic Has Shined a Light on the Importance of IT and The Cloud

At the beginning of the pandemic, Blackboard, an EdTech company, was faced with a 3,600% increase in demand for their virtual classroom. Zoom, a video communications company, went from 10 million users to 300 million. Vyaire Medical, a respiratory device maker, saw demand increase from 30 units per week to almost 1,000 per day.

In addition to the hardworking people and supplies required to meet these unprecedented demands, companies have relied heavily on their IT infrastructure, including compute, storage, and analytics, to power through the pandemic. Cloud computing, in particular, has helped these organizations manage the challenges of agility, cost, and scale.

Most people don’t think about things like compute that often. But as the VP of Amazon EC2, a web service that provides compute capacity at Amazon Web Services (AWS), I think about it a lot. And during the pandemic, I’ve seen a major shift in organizations moving to the cloud and a mental shift in how they think about their IT department.

Cloud economics

With cloud computing, organizations get pay-as-you-go, on-demand access to virtual computers on which to run their applications. Instead of buying, owning, and maintaining physical data centers and servers, they pay for infrastructure as they consume as a variable expense, at a price lower than virtually any company could achieve on its own.

In the cloud, organizations can provision thousands of servers in minutes, as opposed to the months it would take to get a server up and running on premises. So when an organization, like the ones I mentioned earlier, experiences a sudden and unexpected increase in demand, they can quickly scale up. Alternatively, if business is slow, they can reduce capacity just as easily so that they don’t have to pay for something they aren’t using.

In addition to compute, organizations can access many other services in the cloud. In fact, at AWS we have over 200 services—from infrastructure technologies, like compute, storage, and databases, to emerging technologies, such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence, data lakes and analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The new role of IT

Because of the pandemic many organizations have found themselves in uncharted territory, and it’s their IT leaders they’ve turned to for direction: How can we scale to meet demand? How can we save money while business is slow? How can we set up thousands of workers with remote access?

In the past, many organizations viewed their IT department as a support function—order takers. But with the emergence of disruptive technologies, such as ML, IoT, and serverless computing, IT leaders are getting their seat at the table. Now, more than ever, they have a huge hand in an organization’s success and planning for its future.

Even though the pandemic isn’t over yet, most organizations have adjusted to the new normal. That’s what makes now a great time to rethink, reimagine, and innovate with a stronger partnership between the business and IT.

The right tool for the job

A good partnership with IT will reveal to a business the vast amount of tools available to them as they reimagine how to create stronger business continuity and a lasting competitive advantage. But the truth is that an organization can start creating a meaningful impact by focusing on something as basic as compute.

At AWS, we have the broadest portfolio of compute options. As a result, our customers can customize their compute for each of their workloads, such as ML or high-performance compute, to get the best price and performance.

For example, NextRoll cut their compute bill in half by switching to one of our newest-generation instance types powered by our custom-built Graviton2 processors. The low price is made possible by our unique architecture, which offloads virtualization functions to dedicated software and silicon chips that we manufacture ourselves. This also allows our customers to innovate faster with performance that is indistinguishable from dedicated physical servers.

Or another example is how GovChat, South Africa’s largest citizen engagement platform, in just a few days created a chatbot to help citizens find their closest COVID-19 testing center using our serverless computing option, which is optimized for speed and scale.

A resolution for the new year

From what I’m hearing, organizations are ready to reinvent in the new year and they want IT to be a bigger part of that conversation. Many organizations reach out to AWS when they want to get that dialogue started because we’ve helped millions of organizations, from Fortune 500 companies to governments to startups, reinvent themselves.

To learn more about AWS Compute Solutions, click here.

To read all the pieces in our “Reinventing with the cloud” series, click here.

By: David Brown, VP, Amazon EC2, AWS

Source: Paid Program: The Pandemic Has Shined a Light on the Importance of IT and the Cloud

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Seltzer, Larry. “Your infrastr

IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecast Amid Supply Chain Disruptions, Pandemic Pressures

The IMF, a grouping made up of 190 member states, promotes international financial stability and monetary cooperation. It also acts as a lender of last resort for countries in financial crisis.

In the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook report released on Tuesday, the group’s economists say the most important policy priority is to vaccinate sufficient numbers of people in every country to prevent dangerous mutations of the virus. He stressed the importance of meeting major economies’ pledges to provide vaccines and financial support for international vaccination efforts before new versions derail. “Policy choices have become more difficult … with limited scope,” IMF economists said in the report.

The IMF in its July report cut its global growth forecast for 2021 from 6% to 5.9%, a result of a reduction in its projection for advanced economies from 5.6% to 5.2%. The shortage mostly reflects problems with the global supply chain that causes a mismatch between supply and demand.

For emerging markets and developing economies, the outlook improved. Growth in these economies is pegged at 6.4% for 2021, higher than the 6.3% estimate in July. The strong performance of some commodity-exporting countries accelerated amid rising energy prices.

The group maintained its view that the global growth rate would be 4.9% in 2022.

In key economics, the growth outlook for the US was lowered by 0.1 percentage point to 6% this year, while the forecast for China was also cut by 0.1 percentage point to 8%. Several other major economies saw their outlook cut, including Germany, whose economy is now projected to grow 3.1% this year, down 0.5 percent from its July forecast. Japan’s outlook was down 0.4 per cent to 2.4%.

While the IMF believes that inflation will return to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of 2022, it also warns that the negative effects of inflation could be exacerbated if the pandemic-related supply-chain disruptions become more damaging and prolonged. become permanent over time. This may result in earlier tightening of monetary policy by central banks, leading to recovery back.

The IMF says that supply constraints, combined with stimulus-based consumer appetite for goods, have caused a sharp rise in consumer prices in the US, Germany and many other countries.

Food-price hikes have placed a particularly severe burden on households in poor countries. The IMF’s Food and Beverage Price Index rose 11.1% between February and August, with meat and coffee prices rising 30% and 29%, respectively.

The IMF now expects consumer-price inflation in advanced economies to reach 2.8% in 2021 and 2.3% in 2022, up from 2.4% and 2.1%, respectively, in its July report. Inflationary pressures are even greater in emerging and developing economies, with consumer prices rising 5.5% this year and 4.9% the following year.

Gita Gopinath, economic advisor and research director at the IMF, wrote, “While monetary policy can generally see through a temporary increase in inflation, central banks should be prepared to act swiftly if the risks to rising inflation expectations are high. become more important in this unchanged recovery.” Report.

While rising commodity prices have fueled some emerging and developing economies, many of the world’s poorest countries have been left behind, as they struggle to gain access to the vaccines needed to open their economies. More than 95% of people in low-income countries have not been vaccinated, in contrast to immunization rates of about 60% in wealthy countries.

IMF economists urged major economies to provide adequate liquidity and debt relief for poor countries with limited policy resources. “The alarming divergence in economic prospects remains a major concern across the country,” said Ms. Gopinath.

By: Yuka Hayashi

Yuka Hayashi covers trade and international economy from The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau. Previously, she wrote about financial regulation and elder protection. Before her move to Washington in 2015, she was a Journal correspondent in Japan covering regional security, economy and culture. She has also worked for Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters in New York and Tokyo. Follow her on Twitter @tokyowoods

Source: IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecast Amid Supply-Chain Disruptions, Pandemic Pressures – WSJ

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Why Women Are More Burned Out Than Men

Statistics show that stress and burnout are affecting more women than men en masse. Why – and what happens next?

When Jia, a Manhattan-based consultant, read Sheryl Sandberg’s bestselling book Lean In in 2014, she resolved to follow the advice espoused by the chief operating officer of Facebook.

“I’d just graduated from an Ivy League business school, was super pumped up and loved the idea of leaning in,” says Jia, whose last name is being withheld to protect her professional reputation. “Learning to self-promote felt so empowering, and I was 100% ready to prove that I was the woman who could have it all: be a high-powered career woman and a great mother.”

But today, the 38-year-old strikes a different tone. For years, she says, she feels like she’s been overlooked for promotions and pay rises at work on account of her gender, particularly after becoming a mother in 2018. Since then, she’s picked up the brunt of childcare responsibilities because her husband, who is a banker, has tended to travel more frequently for work. That, she adds, has given her a misguided reputation among her colleagues and managers – the majority of whom are male – for not being professionally driven.

Then when Covid-19 hit, it was as if all the factors already holding her back were supercharged. When her daughter’s day care closed in March 2020, Jia became the default caregiver while trying to stay afloat at work. “I was extremely unmotivated because I felt like I was spending all hours of the day trying not to fall off an accelerating treadmill,” she explains. “But at the same time, I felt like I was being trusted less and less to be able to do a good job. I could feel my career slipping through my fingers and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.”

In early 2021, Jia’s therapist told her she was suffering from burnout. Jia says she’d never struggled with her mental health before. “But now I’m just trying to get through each week while staying sane,” she says.

Jia’s story is symptomatic of a deeply ingrained imbalance in society that the pandemic has both highlighted and exacerbated. For multiple reasons, women, particularly mothers, are still more likely than men to manage a more complex set of responsibilities on a daily basis – an often-unpredictable combination of unpaid domestic chores and paid professional work.

I could feel my career slipping through my fingers and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it – Jia

Though the mental strain of mastering this balancing act has been apparent for decades, Covid-19 has cast a particularly harsh light on the problem. Statistics show that stress and burnout are affecting more women than men, and particularly more working mothers than working fathers. This could have multiple impacts for the post-pandemic world of work, making it important that both companies and wider society find ways to reduce this imbalance.

Unequal demands

Recent data looking specifically at burnout in women is concerning. According to a survey by LinkedIn of almost 5,000 Americans, 74% of women said they were very or somewhat stressed for work-related reasons, compared with just 61% of employed male respondents.

A separate analysis from workplace-culture consultancy a Great Place to Work and health-care start-up Maven found that mothers in paid employment are 23% more likely to experience burnout than fathers in paid employment. An estimated 2.35 million working mothers in the US have suffered from burnout since the start of the pandemic, specifically “due to unequal demands of home and work”, the analysis showed.

Women tend to be dealing with a more complex set of work and personal responsibilities, leading to stress (Credit: Getty)

Experts generally agree that there’s no single reason women burn out, but they widely acknowledge that the way societal structures and gender norms intersect plays a significant role. Workplace inequalities, for example, are inextricably linked to traditional gender roles.

In the US, women still earn an average of about 82 cents for each dollar earned by a man, and the gap across many countries in Europe is similar. Jia’s firm does not publish its gender pay-gap data, but she suspects that it’s significant. Moreover, she thinks many of her male peers earn more than her, something that causes her a huge amount of stress.

“The idea that I might be underselling myself is extremely frustrating, but I also don’t want to make myself unpopular by asking for more money when I’m already pushing the boundaries by asking my company to make accommodations for me having to care for my daughter,” she says. “It’s a constant internal battle.”

Research links lower incomes to higher stress levels and worse mental health in general. But several studies have also shown more specifically that incidences of burnout among women are greater because of differences in job conditions and the impact of gender on progression.

In 2018, researchers from University of Montreal published a study tracking 2,026 workers over the course of four years. The academics concluded that women were more vulnerable to burnout than men because women were less likely to be promoted than men, and therefore more likely to be in positions with less authority which can lead to increased stress and frustration. The researchers also found that women were more likely to head single-parent families, experience child-related strains, invest time in domestic tasks and have lower self-esteem – all things that can exacerbate burnout.

Nancy Beauregard, a professor at University of Montreal and one of the authors of that study, said that reflecting on her work back in 2018, it’s clear that Covid-19 has amplified the existing inequalities and imbalances that her team demonstrated through their research. “In terms of [the] sustainable development of the human capital of the workforce,” she says, “we’re not heading in a good direction.”

A pandemic catalyst

Brian Kropp, chief of human resources research at Gartner, a global research and advisory firm headquartered in Connecticut, US, agrees that while many of the factors fueling women’s burnout were in play before the pandemic, Covid-19 notably exacerbated some as it forced us to dramatically overhaul our living and working routines.

When the pandemic hit, many women found that their domestic responsibilities surged – making juggling work even harder (Credit: Getty)

Structures supporting parents’ and carers’ lives closed down, and in most cases, this excess burden fell on women. One study, conducted by academics from Harvard University, Harvard Business School and London Business School, evaluated survey responses from 30,000 individuals around the world and found that women – especially mothers – had spent significantly more time on childcare and chores during Covid-19 than they did pre-pandemic, and that this was directly linked to lower wellbeing. Many women had already set themselves up as the default caregiver within their households, and the pandemic obliterated the support systems that had previously allowed them to balance paid employment and domestic work.

That’s exactly what Sarah experienced in March 2020, when schools across New York first closed. “Initially the message was that schools would stay closed until the end of April, so that was my target: ‘Get to that point and you’ll be fine’,” recalls the Brooklyn-based 40-year-old. Now, more than 18 months into the pandemic, her two sons, aged 6 and 9, are only just reacquainting themselves with in-person learning, and Sarah’s life has changed dramatically.

In April 2020, for the first time ever, she started suffering from anxiety. The pressures of home-schooling her children while working as marketing executive for a large technology company overwhelmed her. She couldn’t sleep, worried constantly and felt depressed. Worst of all, she felt like whatever she did was inadequate because she didn’t have enough time to do anything well.

Six months into the pandemic, it was clear something had to change. Sarah’s husband, a lawyer, was earning much more than her, and had done so since they got married in 2008. So, in August 2020 the couple jointly decided that Sarah would leave her job to become a stay-at-home mother. “Before this, I never really knew what being burned out meant,” she says. “Now I know beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

Sarah’s experience is emblematic of a much broader trend. In September last year, just as the pandemic was gaining pace, more than 860,000 women dropped out of the US workforce, compared with just over 200,000 men. One estimate put the number of mothers who had quit the US workforce between February and September last year at 900,000, and the number of fathers at 300,000.

As women lost crucial social lifelines during lockdown which may have been emotional and physical outlets for stress, it’s clear that the abrupt avalanche of extra domestic responsibilities pushed many who were already busily juggling home and work life further than they could go.

‘What’s the cost?’

One of the greatest concerns workplace experts harbour is that poor mental health among women in the workplace could discourage future generations from setting ambitious professional goals, particularly if they want to start a family. That could exacerbate the gender inequalities that already exist in terms of pay and seniority in the labour market.

Data indicate that this is indeed a legitimate concern; statistics collected by CNBC and polling company SurveyMonkey earlier this year showed that the number of women describing themselves as “very ambitious” in terms of their careers declined significantly during the pandemic. Data from the US Census Bureau shows that over the first 12 weeks of the pandemic, the percentage of mothers between the ages of 25 and 44 not working due to Covid-19-related childcare issues grew by 4.8 percentage points, compared to no increase for men in the same age group.

In terms of [the] sustainable development of the human capital of the workforce, we’re not heading in a good direction – Nancy Beauregard

Equally, there are concerns about how new ways of working such as hybrid could impact on workplace gender equality. Research shows that women are more likely than men to work from home in a post-pandemic world, but there’s evidence that people who work from home are less likely to get promoted than those who have more face-time with managers. “Women are saying, I’m working just as hard and doing just as much, but because I’m working from home, I’m less likely to get promoted,” says Kropp. “That’s extremely demotivating.”

Dean Nicholson, head of adult therapy at London-based behavioural health clinic The Soke, suggests that perceptions of fairness – or otherwise – could impact on women’s workplace participation. “When the balance of justice is skewed against us in the workplace, then it’s invariably going to lead to negative feelings, not just towards the organisation, but in the way that we feel about ourselves and the value of our contribution, as well as where we’re positioned on a hierarchy of worth.”

To prevent an exodus of female talent, says Kropp, organisations must appreciate that old workplaces practices are no longer fit for purpose. Managers need to fundamentally rethink how companies must be structured in order to promote fairness and equality of opportunity, he says. That means pay equality and equal opportunities for promotion, as well as creating a culture of transparency where everyone – mothers, fathers and employees who are not parents – feels valued and can reach their professional potential while also accommodating what’s going on at home.

Steve Hatfield, global future of work leader for Deloitte, notes that mothers, especially those in senior leadership roles, are extremely important role models. “The ripple effect of what they’re seen to be experiencing right now has the potential to be truly profound on newer employees, and so it’s up to organisations to prove that they can accommodate and cater to the needs of all employees,” he says.

As such, Hephzi Pemberton, founder of the Equality Group, a London-based consultancy that focuses on inclusion and diversity in the finance and technology industry, emphasises the need for managers to be trained formally and to understand that the initiative to create a workplace that’s fit for purpose must come from the employer rather than the employee. “That’s absolutely critical to avoid the risk of burnout,” she says.

But Jia, who says she’s now on the brink of quitting her job, insists that notable changes need to happen in the home as well as the workplace. “What’s become abundantly clear to me through the pandemic is that we all have a role to play in understanding the imbalances that are created when stereotypical gender roles are blindly adhered to,” she says. “Yes, of course it sometimes makes sense for a woman to be the default caregiver or to take a step back from paid work, but we need to appreciate at what cost. This is 2021. Sometimes I wonder if we’re in the 1950s.”

By Josie Cox

Source: Why women are more burned out than men – BBC Worklife

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