Women Will Be Harder Hit By Covid-19 Than Men
This week, the BBC shared an article Coronavirus: Will women have to work harder after the pandemic?
It brought to mind a conversation I had recently where I was lambasted for daring to say that women had been – and would continue to be – harder hit than men by the economic effect of Covid-19.
I’d mentioned that many women had said that they had struggled with working from home. Many had borne the lion’s (or should I say lionesses’) share of childcare, home schooling, shopping and housework, and that they were struggling with the balance of responsibilities.
This provoked a heated response that this was being sexist and that men took equal responsibility.
We then discussed the subject of being on furlough. Whilst this may have been a break from work for some, it wasn’t a break from the anxiety of what would happen to jobs after lockdown. The longer lockdown continued the more precarious jobs would be. Maybe I was poking the dragon but I said that I thought women would be the biggest losers.
I wasn’t being a harbinger of doom – I am an optimist. I believe that we can and will get through this, but it will take time and change. Unfortunately, when it comes to job cuts, historically women take a harder hit than men.
Work after Covid-19 will be a different beast.
Even for us. In the week before the pandemic was announced we arranged four events for over 350 women. We had over 100 events planned for the year and were planning an epic year! What a difference the lockdown announcement made!
Although we’ve moved networking online, the delay in holding physical events has had a huge financial effect which has resulted in a reduction to our team. A decision that caused me many sleepless nights and has been very painful to execute.
Over the last few months, we’ve held masterclasses to help women cope with lockdown, emotionally, physically and professionally. My daily ‘Corona-time’ round up on Facebook Live would reach out to our Pink Link members to discuss the news. I’ve literally had months of conversations with women from all types of industries; employers, employees, self-employed, furloughed, working. We’ve spoke at length about how they have been affected by Covid-19.
Gender Diversification – It’s Time For Change
Last month, I was asked to comment on an article about gender pay equality and the disparity between the number of women in the boardroom.
I’d said “Women often feel penalised or less valuable in the workplace for bearing the brunt of familial responsibility. This can lead to a lack of confidence to challenge unequal pay or to apply for promotion. There should be more support and encouragement for women in the workplace to progress. We are not suggesting that women should be appointed without merit, instead personal development plans should be put in place to help them feel prepared for the role.
Women bring an extensive skills set to the table, including the ability to wear many hats at the same time, juggling family life with a career, the ability to be a tough negotiator and an empathetic outlook which should not be confused with being ‘soft’. Businesses who have appointed more women to the boardroom have reported an increase in productivity and profits. Stifling diversity is simply holding businesses back. It’s time for change.”
Let’s Start A Conversation…
So, what can we do?
- Be more flexible and understanding towards women who are looking after the family; young, old and in ill-health.
- Look at the way we deal with mental health issues – a healthy mind is more productive.
- Encourage personal development and opportunities to upskill.
- Provide networking opportunities – obviously I’ll say Pink Link, but a good network is a support system that can help women professionally, emotionally and socially.
- Increase resources (knowledge, training and funding) for women to start a business. Maybe even match several women who could work together to start a new business.
- Increase transparency in rates of pay and detail how pay increases can be achieved.
Thank you to all the supporters of gender diversification and supporters of female entrepreneurship, and those who are enlightened. We just need more of you!
I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this. Let’s get a conversation started.