We keep saying it, but we’ll say it again: working women have been hit harder by this pandemic than men. It’s estimated that five million women lost their jobs in 2020. We could see more job losses among women now as the world begins to reopen. Why? Because they’ve been cornered into other responsibilities — including possibly homeschooling — while working remotely.
A new study by Perceptyx, an employee listening and people analytics platform, found that compared to six months ago, 48% of women are less likely to want to return to their workplace in a full-time capacity. Sixty-two percent of women were working onsite in pre-pandemic times, compared with 57% of male employees. The report also highlights that over two million women have left the workforce entirely since the pandemic began.
“While it’s shocking that more than two million women have left the workforce as a result of the pandemic, it’s not that surprising that the majority of women looking for a hybrid work arrangement would prefer to spend fewer days in the office than their male counterparts,” Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster, told GOBankingRates. “Caregiving responsibilities, whether for children or for elderly parents, consistently falls to women.”
Now more than ever, women need to tell it like it is to their bosses who demand that they return to the workplace like this entire pandemic never happened or isn’t still happening.
“It’s important for women returning to the workforce to be clear about your needs when talking with potential employers,” said Salemi. “Ask them about their leave, flex-time and work-from-home policies to make sure they align with your needs. Do research on the leadership of the company. Recent data from Monster showed that more than half of women say they would turn down a job at a company that does not include women in leadership roles. So, as much as this is an issue for women in the workplace, it is also an issue for employers to be more transparent about leadership and their decision makers not only to attract candidates but to retain strong performers.”
Women also should keep in mind that their bosses may be more willing to bend on certain rules, like working in the office full time, than they were before.
“One silver lining during these unprecedented times is that employers are becoming more flexible in work from home and hybrid arrangements as they extend job offers and make post-pandemic headcount plans,” said Salemi. “As they recruit talent and subsequently look to retain employees, they may extend a wider net and recruitment strategy beyond their geographic ZIP code.”
But the problem remains: “The impact of work from home on women’s promotions, career development and earning potential is another setback to pay equity that women cannot afford,” said Salemi. Dr. Brett Wells, director of people analytics and Perceptyx, Inc. added that the widening gender gap “poses long-term consequences, especially for working mothers. This group is leaving the workplace at a faster rate, they are less likely to want to go back to the physical workplace, and those who want a hybrid model intend to go into the physical workplace less often.”
How can women address this blowback? We tackle it the same way that we would have back in the good old pre-pandemic days: by knowing our worth and speaking it without fear or compromise.
“It’s important that all working women know their value,” said Salemi. “The first step to pay equity is understanding what you should be making. Using online salary tools can help you recognize your market value and set the baseline for where you should be negotiating from — not to. Once you know this, you’re more prepared at the negotiating table and can feel more confident in your effort at closing the gap.”
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