It may be years before we comprehend the full ramifications of COVID-19 on our society and places of work. But while we are still learning to navigate the pandemic, we each have had to adapt our daily lives to respond to it.
Working women, in particular, are being impacted in profound ways, facing tremendous challenges and commonly taking on expanded duties at home while continuing to juggle their careers.
In order to understand how and to what degree women’s day-to-day lives have changed – and how they feel these changes could impact their careers – we recently conducted a survey of nearly 400 working women around the globe at a variety of career levels and spanning various industries.
The pandemic is taking a heavy toll on the daily lives of working women
What these women shared sheds light on the extent to which the pandemic is affecting their work/life balance, mental and physical health, and confidence in their long-term career prospects.
Over 80% of the women we surveyed said their lives have been negatively disrupted since the onset of COVID-19. Additional care giving responsibilities, extra household responsibilities, and heavier workloads were cited as common impacts, causing many women to experience negative tolls on their mental or physical well-being or feel unable to balance their work/life commitments.
Alarmingly, nearly 70% of women who have experienced these disruptions are concerned about their ability to progress in their career. And 60% questioned whether they actually want to progress when considering what they perceive is currently required to move up in their organization.
We should be concerned about these results in terms of the immediate impacts on women’s daily lives, the potential long-term effects on their future careers, and the broader threat to the progress made in recent years in achieving gender equality in the workplace. But our research also reveals how leaders can take action to mitigate these impacts.
Actions taken by employers will be critical in ensuring women continue to thrive
Our survey asked women what employers could do to support them in progressing during and beyond the pandemic. Using their answers and other insights from our research around key barriers and enablers, we believe there are six important steps organizations can take to ensure women continue to progress:
1) Make flexible working the norm. Going beyond “working from home” to offer a range of options that enable everyone (not just working parents) to have a manageable work/life balance is critical for making progress on gender equality. Of the 60% of women surveyed who said they questioned whether they want to progress in their organizations, more than 40% cited lack of work/life balance as a reason. Moreover, just under half of those surveyed cited having more flexible working options as something their employer can do to help them stay longer term. But this is not just about policies – these options must also be underpinned by a workplace culture that supports employees in taking advantage of them without any fear of career penalty.
2) Lead with empathy and trust. The need for leaders and managers to have open and supportive conversations with their teams has never been stronger, and 44% of women surveyed said that having more regular team check-ins to understand how individuals are doing is a key action leaders can take. Open dialogue can help leaders understand any short-term constraints their employees face and make sure their long-term prospects within the organization are secured.
3) Promote networking, mentorship and sponsorship as ways to learn and grow. 46% of women surveyed told us that the provision of such opportunities would entice them stay with their employer longer-term.These resources can be meaningful platforms for career growth, provided they are offered in ways and at times that accommodate different schedules and needs.
4) Create learning opportunities that fit within employees’ daily lives. With 40% of women saying they want more learning and development opportunities,introducing approaches to learning and development that provide access to expertise and skills in flexible and practical ways can be key to supporting women, many of whom remain keen to take on more responsibilities despite the constraints imposed on them by the pandemic.
5) Ensure that reward, succession, and promotion processes address unconscious bias. With over half of those surveyed citing getting a promotion and/or a pay raise as actions employers can take to make them stay longer-term, it remains critical that organizations address unconscious bias in their reward and succession processes. This includes looking at these processes in the context of remote working and addressing any negative perceptions of unavoidable commitments outside work, such as caregiving responsibilities.
6) Above all, make diversity, respect, and inclusion non-negotiable. Of those women who said they were questioning whether they wanted to progress in their organizations, around a quarter cited lack of diversity, poor or no role models, and poor culture, and 30% cited non-inclusive behaviors experienced (e.g., microaggressions, exclusion from meetings/projects) as reasons. Beyond having the right policies and processes in place to advance gender diversity, leaders must address these non-inclusive “every day” behaviors, such as microaggressions and exclusion, through clear and visible action since this is clearly still a significant factor to ensure women remain engaged.
We are at an inflection point. With no end to the pandemic currently in sight, organizations must meet the call to support the women in their workforce and ensure they can thrive both personally and professionally—or our economy and society could face long-standing repercussions.
Emma Codd is Global Inclusion Leader for Deloitte and leads on the development and delivery of the global inclusion strategy.
CBS Sunday Morning 808K subscribers The pandemic has put many working moms in an impossible situation — doing their own jobs as well as those of teachers and childcare workers, on top of housework — and some women are finding their careers in jeopardy as they balance the demands from employers with their children’s needs.
Correspondent Rita Braver hears from working mothers who describe a climate of discrimination, and examines how this challenging new work dynamic may actually set back advances that have been made in bringing equality to the workplace. Subscribe to the “CBS Sunday Morning” Channel HERE: http://bit.ly/20gXwJT Get more of “CBS Sunday Morning” HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1PlMmAz Follow “CBS Sunday Morning” on Instagram HERE: http://bit.ly/23XunIh Like “CBS Sunday Morning” on Facebook HERE: https://www.facebook.com/CBSSundayMor… Follow “CBS Sunday Morning” on Twitter HERE: http://bit.ly/1RquoQb Get the latest news and best in original reporting from CBS News delivered to your inbox. Subscribe to newsletters HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1RqHw7T Get your news on the go! Download CBS News mobile apps HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1Xb1WC8 Get new episodes of shows you love across devices the next day, stream local news live, and watch full seasons of CBS fan favorites anytime, anywhere with CBS All Access. Try it free! http://bit.ly/1OQA29B —