Years after the emergence of COVID-19, it’s become evident how disproportionately the pandemic has impacted women in the workforce.
McKinsey research indicated that women made up over half of those leaving the workforce during the Great Resignation. For some women, inflexible work schedules and lack of available childcare led them to take on unpaid labor at higher rates than men. For others, it was industry related. Many women-dominated industries suffered during the pandemic’s height, leading to a huge drop in employment.
We’re still about a million women behind in employment numbers, so it’s vital to support those now reentering the workforce, as their experiences have fundamentally changed their needs.
How can your company provide support?
- Support upward mobility. Historically, women have been promoted to managerial positions at lower rates than men, creating long-term problems like fewer women in leadership positions overall. One study found that women leaving the workforce for maternity leave are three times more likely to have lower-paying jobs or less responsibilities when they return than those who don’t take leave. Even staying with an employer leaves mothers with a lower chance of career progression.
Even if they’ve stepped away during the pandemic, previous work qualifications still matter. As women returning to the office look for ways to move up, take time to reevaluate your own workplace. Look for ways to make upward mobility accessible by creating programs that provide mentorship or training for women, and don’t overlook them when promotion time comes.
- Help working parents. The pandemic revealed gaps in our childcare system that can derail women’s careers. Find creative ways your company can support working parents by implementing onsite childcare programs, providing compensation for daycare or instilling more flexible work schedules for those with young children.
Invest in their success. A living wage and good insurance are key. In fact, more than 80% of women returning to work report looking for these factors. Equally critical is company-awareness of burnout, which disproportionately impacted women during the Great Resignation.
- Build trust through empathy. Managers should focus on building trust through empathy. Understanding challenges that forced women to step back is important, but clear communication on how things will change is essential.
Prioritize recognition for the great work women do. Women stepping back into their careers are looking for that recognition; be empathetic to their struggles and make employee support a company-wide practice.
- Partner with helpful programs. Women reentering the workforce may be looking for help. Companies partnering with a “returnship” program can boost retention by providing support through networking, resume refreshing and navigating feelings of guilt.
Regardless of the industry, it’s critical for companies to establish a clear plan for supporting and preparing women for workplace re-entry, or don’t be surprised when they jump to a competitor.
Tina Lapp is head of customer experience and instruction for Colibri Real Estate. With nearly 30 years of professional education experience in the real estate sector, Lapp empowers aspiring and seasoned professionals to thrive in their careers.
For more information, please visit https://www.colibrirealestate.com.