Over the past year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the global economy and negatively impacted employment. However, the impact has not been equal across genders and surveys have shown . Adding to this, a recent study by Deloitte has shown that nearly 70% of women who have experienced these disruptions are concerned their career growth may be limited as a result.
Surveying 400 women across nine countries, the survey found that 82% of the respondents said their lives have been negatively disrupted by the pandemic. Since the start of the outbreak, most women’s lives have changed dramatically and routines have had to be adjusted according to the new circumstances. While some have enjoyed having to commute for fewer hours and getting to spend more time with family, the impact has not always been positive across the board.
According to the Deloitte study, nearly 70% of women who said they’ve experienced adverse changes to their daily routines during the pandemic believe these alterations have or will prevent them from progressing.
Another key complaint raised by people working from home is the constant need to be online or available and the corroding of realistic work-life boundaries. Nearly half the respondents of the study said that they share this concern and 29% felt that if they did not fulfill these expectations, it would impede their career progression.
Spending more time at home due to the lockdowns has added to the burden of unpaid labour that women do at home and with help now limited, . Thus, balancing rising demands at home and at work had added to women’s woes during this challenging time. Under a quarter of the respondents of the study also expressed the fear that they will have to choose between their personal commitments and their professional goals. Worryingly, 10% of the women shared that they were also considering taking a career break or even leaving the workforce entirely.
In more ways than one, the pandemic has begun to undo a lot of the work that women have fought for in the past decades and the glass ceiling seems to be getting higher and higher with these added challenges. Women have consistently proven to be necessary and valuable additions to any workplace and if employers are keen on retaining them, the study suggests six key areas that would require their intervention.
Nearly 50% of the women in the study shared that providing more flexible working options would help support them in their careers. They also expressed the need for workplaces to ensure that teams are adequately resourced and to provide leadership, mentorship, and networking opportunities to support women. Better mental health resources, childcare support, and benefits like parental leave also featured in the list of changes that the respondents hoped to see, which are the minimum requirements that employers need to fulfill to ensure that women are supported at all stages in their careers.
(Edited by Sanhati Banerjee)