This article was shared by a connection on LinkedIn and I read it inbetween calls but it has been simmering in the back of my mind all day and I really needed to get it on paper!
Perhaps the first statistic which I think really stands on it’s on is: “In September , an eye-popping 865,000 women left the U.S. workforce — four times more than men”.
This fact really shocks me. Unfortunately, it may be a sign of things to come if employers do not embrace flexible working as well as countries investing in the infrastructure around childcare and making it affordable for every layer of society.
Why has this happened?
According to NPR, it’s all around the role of women in the household not changing. As well as their job, they are needing to do the bulk of the cooking, cleaning, observing/monitoring education. It’s limitless and for some women, all of these activities are just too much to handle.
I do tend to agree with this assessment but would argue that the mental stress and additional activities are hitting all families very hard. I was talking to some female colleagues/peers recently about how they handled working during the pandemic and it was astounding just how many hours they were putting in every day just to get everything done. One was working 9pm until midnight just to get a few more hours of work in before being up at 5am with her son to get ready for the day.
What can be done to resolve it?
This is a really difficult question to answer. In my opinion, if the pandemic proceeds to cause as much disruption in the latter part of 2020 as it has caused up to now, then I think that it is only going to get worse as families have to reassess what’s the most valuable use of the time and energy of the parents.
I’ve also seen that over the summer, there was the demand in some companies to return to the physical workplace and the ‘old way of working’. This item alone cause a big amount of stress for some of my peers who were only just adjusting to their pandemic working patterns.
I would like to see more companies take the lead from Microsoft and Siemens who have published that they are allowing employees to work permanently from home (Microsoft) or a minimum of 3 days a week (Siemens). It’s important to realise and support the effectiveness of employees to be able to work successfully from home. I would like to see more companies embracing and providing equipment for people to work from home.
Additionally, there needs to be greater support from the government to provide greater equality for working families and especially those with a low income. In the UK, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of families using Foodbanks or being made homeless as a result of the pandemic.
What changes would you like to see that would encourage women into the workforce?