The pandemic has completely transformed perspectives about work, especially for women. In the 18 months since COVID-19 appeared, more than half of working women are less optimistic about their job opportunities than they were before a novel virus took the world by storm.
How the Pandemic Exacerbated Conditions
During the pandemic, many women who had corporate jobs reverted to traditional roles.
They found themselves in the position of being the caretaker for everyone around them. These women provided emotional support and encouragement for their employees on their teams.
During the lockdown periods, these same women were also the support system at home, assisting their children with virtual learning, checking on relatives, and holding the family together. Women traded their career aspirations and took on greater domestic responsibility.
As a result, the women burned out quickly.
Difficulties Women Face in Corporate Jobs
Landing a job in corporate America isn’t easy as a woman. It’s even more difficult as a woman of color or LGBTQIA.
Many corporate women have experienced the broken rung syndrome: making their way up the corporate ladder is nearly impossible because the first step in moving up is often disconnected. It’s so shattered that getting to the second rung is a tremendous hurdle.
Corporate roles require considerable face time when managing or leading teams of employees. During the pandemic, women:
- experienced higher stress levels than men (74% compared to 61%)
- burned out quicker than men in similar jobs
- earned less than men for the same job
- left the corporate workforce at a rate of 3:1 compared to their male counterparts
Women gave up the positions they worked for on the ladder. In doing so, they also may have given up their opportunity for further advancement.
Changing the Outcome
The good news is that the future doesn’t have to be bleak.
Companies can – and should – encourage women to return to their places in corporate positions. These five steps can help women step up over that first broken rung of the corporate ladder and on to richly satisfying careers.
- Offer greater flexibility
Allow employees to take time off when needed. Some companies have experimented with unlimited paid leave. If that’s too big of a leap, try a smaller commitment of a few days at a time.
- Align accountability with financial incentives
Too often, performance metrics don’t match up. Reward results rather than time spent in the building.
- Consider diversity when hiring
More than numbers, diversity thrives when people of different backgrounds, races, and experiences work together.
- Eliminate bias and identify promotion trends
Make sure equitable performance reviews identify accomplishments and any need for professional growth accurately.
- Listen when women speak
Women in corporate jobs find that their ideas and contributions are often suppressed.
With your help, the women who shouldered the burden of the pandemic will be back, stronger and better equipped to lead companies forward.