Woman in the Workplace – Redefining Work After the Pandemic

As the pandemic has changed the way many of us work, women in the workplace are reporting to be more stressed and discouraged as they take on an increasing amount of responsibility at home and in their careers. Although representation for women in the workplace has made important strides towards improvement, women are significantly showing increasing signs of burnout – even more so than men. These long-term impacts can cause a decrease in the female pipeline and lack of ambition due to limited opportunities for progression. What is happening behind the scenes for women in the workplace to feel this way and how do we retain and engage these same employees?

1. Women are burned out—more so than men

It would be nearly impossible to find anyone in the current workforce who has not learned how to adapt to the new reality of work. According to the annual Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey & Co. and LeanIn.Org, 80% of women say their workloads have increased due to the pandemic, while 66% of women report having more responsibilities at home such as caregiving and housework. Furthermore, 42% of women and 35% of men reported feeling burned out often or almost always in 2021, compared to 32% of women and 28% of men last year.

What did it take women who have full-time jobs, partners, and children to keep a ‘normal’ life? They reported on average spending significantly more time each week on the following responsibilities than men do:

  • 7.4 more hours on childcare
  • 5.3 more hours caring for elderly or sick relatives
  • At least 7 more hours on housework

Women everywhere are feeling the burdens of the pandemic disproportionally. Women take on more responsibilities at work whether that be remote learning with their children or keeping up with household chores. In March 2021, there were 1.4 million fewer mothers with children 18 years or younger in the workforce than reported in February 2020, according to Census data. Mothers have been pushed out of the workforce at high rates due to lack of childcare and taking on teaching roles with schools closing. Adding the hours above is an extra 20 hours of work per week – the equivalent of taking on a second job while already working a full time, 40-hour week career. Because there has been such a shift of women leaving the workplace, others are considering it as well. 1 in 3 women say they are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce entirely, compared to 1 out of 4 who said this in the beginning months of the pandemic. In the same fashion, 4 in 10 women have considered leaving their company or switching jobs. As the large candidate pool suggests, they are following through on that consideration.

2. Women are rising to be leaders, but their work is going unrecognized

“When women feel confident and supported by colleagues and employers, they report having a better handle on work-life balance and believe their careers are progressing in a positive direction.”

Not only are responsibilities shifting at home, but women in the workplace are taking on more tasks. When compared to men, women are doing more to support their team and initiatives such as DE&I however, most of the organizations surveyed reported that they do not formally recognize this work. Although many organizations have focused on tackling discrimination, one in eight women of color still find themselves to be both the only woman and the only person of their race in any meeting or room and are more likely to experience microaggressions than their coworkers. In fact, although women representation has increased over time, women of color are significantly underrepresented in leadership when compared to white employees and men of color at every level of the corporate pipeline. On average, there are 57% of white men in roles Senior Manager/Director level above and only 6% of white females in those same positions. This has led to a great pessimism towards career prospects in fact, less than half of women in the workforce are satisfied with their current job. When combining this with being overworked, an unequal work-life balance and being pushed to make challenging decisions, many women are coming to a resolution which may include leaving the workforce altogether.

3. Retaining and engaging women

This is a critical time for employers to understand what women need, address burnout, and restore gender equity. For women to feel valued in their work, organizations must recognize and reward the women leaders who are driving their business forward. To drive organizational change and improve representation of women in the workplace, organizations can incorporate employee reviews before promotions – holding managers and leaders accountable for their own progress. Research shows that more than 90 percent of organizations currently track women’s overall representation however, only 65 percent track gender differences in promotion rates. Similarly, 70 percent of organizations hold senior leaders accountable for progress on DE&I goals—but only 30 percent of managers, who play a critical role in hiring and promotion decisions, accountable. It is never considered ‘too late’ to start addressing trends of equality, inclusive culture and supporting your employees. By tapping into these pain points, you can make sustainable and meaningful progress on gender equity and make women feel more confident at work. When women feel confident and supported by colleagues and employers, they report having a better handle on work-life balance and believe their careers are progressing in a positive direction. These are the same women who report better mental health/well-being, productivity, motivation and are considered loyal to their employers.

By adding more women to the labor force, they bring new skills to the workplace, higher productivity and growth. As the war for talent amplifies, organizations looking to obtain and keep top talent must incorporate inclusive and flexible work practices, recognize their top performers and address employee engagement. Incorporating mentorship, support, training and technology can bring women back to work and ensure they are receiving the same opportunities as others within the organization.

Coit Group can help your organization finetune your DE&I goals, advise on appropriate strategies and help get you set up with the technology to push your organization towards success. If you would like to learn more about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion or the work we do here at Coit Group– contact us now.