How COVID-19 Has Stifled the Pipeline for Female Talent
By Joyce De Leo, Ph.D., and Deborah Wing, M.D., M.B.A.
Amid COVID-19, the global movement toward greater workplace diversity has lost energy and even taken a step back. In regards to gender, some say we are witnessing a female recession. “For the first time since they began a consistent upward climb in the labor force in the 1970s, women are now suffering the repercussions of a system that still treats them unequally,” notes writer Chabeli Carrazana. She adds: “When the economy crumbled, women fell — hard.”
A number of things have happened during the pandemic. Women, already earning less than men, reduced their work hours, to tend to family including both children and parents. Experts say that the gains that women have made have not been accompanied by cultural and structural change, such as meaningful improvements in child care options. These factors impact women in their current positions and also inhibit them from pursuing their career goals. In our work as executive search consultants, we see fewer women candidates for key leadership roles these past months.
The pipeline is trending male again. It may take years to get back to a point where women are putting their careers on a par with other priorities. We believe that organizations, and the men and women who lead them, will need to be more proactive in supporting aspiring women leaders. The following are some critical priorities:
- Keep challenging our biases.
- Hold leaders accountable for supporting women in their careers.
- Raise awareness of women’s career challenges.
- Reconstruct the work day.
- Create networks for women both internally and externally.
- Secure sponsorships.