Closing the Covid-19 Gender Gap
Covid-19 has had a tremendous impact on the lives of billions across the globe, yet it appears the effects are particularly hard-hitting for women. Let's take a look at how and why this crisis has seemingly targeted women over men and identify some ways businesses can help.
1. Women carry the majority of childcare responsibilities
In many families, the majority of childcare responsibility falls onto mothers. This makes it extremely hard for many women to return to work or manage their work responsibilities effectively from home. Even as workplaces begin to reopen, the struggle continues as mothers rely on daycares with limited space and increased prices, summer camps only running at limited capacity, and schools that remain closed.
If you are struggling to balance work and home life, have an open conversation with your supervisor so they understand your situation. Remember that as your employer, they must accommodate employees with childcare obligations as much as they can without putting undue strain on the business. It's in everyone's best interest if lines of communication are kept open. Let your employer know how they can help you be successful.
2. Industries dominated by women were hit hard
Jobs in healthcare, retail, travel and hospitality are traditionally filled mostly by women, and these sectors have been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic. This disparity has caused a considerable number of women to be at increased risk of job loss or Covid-19 exposure due.
If a job loss has impacted you, there are many places to start as you rebuild. My article, "What to Do If You've Lost Your Job Because of Covid-19," is a resource for advice. If you are working or returning to work, talk to your supervisor and coworkers about safety best practices so everyone feels safe in your new working environment.
3. Women are more likely to hold positions where telecommuting is not possible
In many sectors, women are in roles where it is difficult, if not impossible, to work remotely. Industries such as retail, restaurant and beauty services heavily depend on a physical presence. When the pandemic caused the temporary closure of these services, workers in these industries were unable to telecommute, resulting in a staggering number of women being temporarily laid-off. Many of these businesses found themselves madly trying to adjust, and many began offering virtual services or launching their business online.
As such, there has never been a better time to learn new skills and offer your assistance to these new areas of the business. Many educational websites and institutions offer free or low-cost courses, so the time to broaden your skill sets is now. Be open to seeing yourself in a new role and trying out new skills. This will be crucial as you try to re-enter the business world after the pandemic.
4. Women have experienced increases in domestic abuse
It is a somber fact that women are at increased exposure and risk to abusive partners by spending extra time in their home environment. Experts report that the consequences of Covid-19 will result in a marked spike in domestic violence. If you are a victim of domestic violence, it is essential to remember you are not alone. Talking to a trusted friend, family member or professional can significantly help the situation. Cities everywhere have resources to help. Always put your health and safety first and ask for help when you need it.
How employers can help
Employers can genuinely reflect their commitment to their employees by supporting their workers whenever and however possible. Make all staff has proper PPE and resources to feel safe at work. Invest in and promote the use of a mental health line or EFAP program. Have an open-door policy to listen to employee family situations and scheduling dilemmas and consider this while assigning shifts. Implementing one or more of these practices for your employees will foster organizational commitment and positively reflect your culture.