Women, Covid, and Workforce Development: What You Need To Know

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    2020 has been a difficult year. Under the highly challenging circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis, many employees are struggling to stay engaged and productive. Now that the boundaries between work and home are unclear, it’s easy to feel like your home is your new office, and your work is part of your personal life. 

    Can corporate America rise to the challenges 2020 is throwing our way? Companies find themselves struggling, especially in the realm of gender equality. Workplaces are at risk of losing female leaders, and undoing years of progress toward gender diversity. What exactly is going on? WeLearn’s Learning Development Blog is here to help. 

    This introductory post will familiarize you with the current trends and statistics regarding female leadership during the pandemic, take a look back at challenges women faced before the pandemic, and help you visualize the uncertain future of work

    The Ever-Present Professional Development Challenges

    An Ongoing Professional Battle: Working women, in particular, have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Women, and especially women of color, are more likely to have been laid off or furloughed during the Covid-19 crisis. As a result, female workers are beginning to find that their professional dreams have come to a grinding halt. 

    The pandemic has intensified every challenge we faced before, whether it be in relationships or the workplace. For women, there is no exception. Many working mothers have always been familiar with balancing a full day of work, followed by hours spent caring for children and doing household jobs. With children at home, this burden has become even harder to bear. 

    For some, having children can be a benefit in the workplace. Research shows that men’s earnings increased by more than 6% on average when they had children. For women, however, it was a different story. Women’s pay decreased by 4% per child, making motherhood and a professional life mutually exclusive.  

    Employee Engagement and Leadership

    The Female Leadership Situation: There are many tangible benefits to having women in key stakeholder roles in the workplace. A report by McKinsey & Co found that achieving full gender equality by 2025 could add up to $12 trillion to the global GDP. Despite the many pros of having women in positions of power, women are dramatically underrepresented in leadership positions. 

    Only about 6% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 2% of S&P 500 CEOs are women. Not only that but currently there are no Black women at the helm of a Fortune 500 CEOs company. According to the Harvard Business Review, those numbers are declining globally and an incredible rate and the coronavirus pandemic has only made the problem worse. 

    Meanwhile, Black women already face more barriers in professional development than most other employees. Today, Black women are also coping with the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on the Black community, and the emotional toll of racially motivated killings and racial violence. Many Black women feel they can’t talk about these issues at work, leading to feelings of isolation. 

    As a result, 1 in 4 women is contemplating downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether.  

    Looking For New Educational Pathways

    Before The Crisis: At the beginning of 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic began in the United States, the representation of women in corporate America was beginning to trend in a positive direction. For example, between 2015 and 2020, the share of women grew in senior management from 23 to 28 percent in SVP roles and 17 to 21 percent in the C-suite. 

    Due to challenges created by the Covid-19 crisis, however, as many as two million women are considering taking a leave of absence or quitting their jobs altogether. 

    If women feel forced to leave the workforce, we’ll see fewer women in leadership, and fewer women on track to be future essential stakeholders. Currently, we find ourselves at a crucial moment in history, where companies need to take even more initiative to support their female workers. 

    Moving Forward through WeLearn’s Learning Development Blog

    We can’t give up yet. If workplaces begin to invest in building a more flexible and empathetic work environment, they can increase their chances of keeping employee retention and employee engagement high. The choices that companies make today will not only impact current employees but society as a whole. 

    Join us as we explore the impact of the COVID crisis on working mothers, women of color, and female leadership in the workplace. By educating ourselves on the current situation, we can find solutions and continue the fight for equality, both in the office and beyond.

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