How to close the gender gap post COVID-19 pandemic
Updated: Apr 22, 2021
The year 2020 was marked as one of the most critical years in the last 100 years as women have been at the forefront of leading Fortune 500 companies and countries. During this crisis, women have come forward as the driving force behind the global response, and they have been at the forefront of fighting the war against this coronavirus.
The United States has been one of the most corona-affected countries in the world economically and otherwise. According to official US sources, 4.3 million people were laid off in the United States due to the pandemic, out of which 2.5 million were women. Gender inequalities were already existing in many areas before the pandemic; however, the pandemic has put more pressure on these working women, and hence the gender inequality gap has increased. The pandemic has put many years of development we have made for working women in danger. Millions of women were supporting themselves and their families on pitiful wages before the pandemic struck. Issues confronting women in the work market have never been covered up, but as they were established as part of societal and economic norms, they were difficult to address.
According to Mckinsey's report on COVID-19 and Gender Equality, working women are more likely to be susceptible to this pandemic. The reason for this vulnerability is reduced demand for care center's and their related obligations. When compounded with other factors, the care industry is largely women-led and makes unemployment for women drop faster than men. Mckinsey noted that 39% of global employment is accounted for by women; however, 54% of them are accounted for by women when it comes to lay-offs and redundancies. If no countermeasures are taken against this gender inequality that is spreading, by 2030, Mckinsey predicts the total global GDP would be $1 trillion lower compared to when women are at the same employment level as that of men. Similarly, it is more valuable for every developed and developing country to take strong and quick actions against this gender inequality as the advancement of gender equality would potentially add $30 trillion to global GDP by 2030.
Women have been largely working in Industries that have been most affected by the pandemic, as shown in the below-shared Exhibit.
Actions needed to reduce the gender gap
Promoting Female Entrepreneurship
Since December 2020, applications for 1.5 million new startups have been registered in the United States, which is a surge compared to the previous quarter and the previous year. A huge number of these new startups are lead by women, which could possibly be due to the necessity as a result of this pandemic. According to the professional networking site LinkedIn, they saw a 5% increase of women entrepreneurs on their platform compared to last year. Many women are doing multiple jobs at once, such as employment jobs, housewife jobs, and providing tuition to their own children, and therefore it becomes difficult for them to embark upon risky business ventures. On the other hand, for some women, covid has brought them a number of opportunities for them to exploit and capitalize on.
We need to promote female entrepreneurship among women of all ages and offer them financial assistance where needed. We need to allow women to come forward with their ideas, products, and services and give them the platform they need to strive and succeed.
Provide a smooth return to work policies
There are serious implications when it comes to taking a break in a career for a number of reasons, especially for women because they are essentially missing out on training and development opportunities and their relevant skills deteriorate as well during these breaks. Organizations must come up with career induction programs that allow women who have taken breaks to come back in the field. Allowing women to participate again in economic development would be of benefit for everyone.
Better access to inexpensive and quality health care and child care
The Industries mainly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic employed women majorly. The industries include child care, healthcare, leisure, and hospitality Industry. Thus in order to support the advancement of women's equality, the government needs to incentivize the childcare industry by subsidizing them. By subsidizing, the childcare industry would become more affordable for everyone and thereby allowing women to get employment. A similar example could be seen in Nordic Countries such as Finland, Sweden, Norway, etc. where women have better employment rates compared to the rest of the world as Norway has developed strong policies surrounding affordable childcare, parental leaves, and employment protection.
Creation of an environment both in the workplace and the economy that supports caregiving
Numerous women employees don't feel great talking about their caregiving obligations at work since they dread this may cause them to show up less accessible and less focused on taking care of their work. They might be worried about risking their position or not being considered for advancement or new opportunities. Caregiving employees frequently wind up feeling confined as well as discouraged and are less inclined to have the opportunity and energy to watch out for their own wellbeing needs. This can, thus, lead to sicknesses like diabetes, weight, and hypertension, bringing about additional issues for the parental figure, just as higher medical services costs for bosses. The mix of these variables can prompt a less productive and efficient labour force in which workers can't amplify their maximum potential. What's more, without adequate help, some caregiving employees exit the labor force, by and large, constraining businesses to recruit more and pay for the training of newly hired.
Workplace and legislative policies surrounding caregiving need reforms. A combined EY and Peterson Institute of International Economics study tracked down that the nations with the most elevated rates of ladies in authority offered fathers multiple times more paternity leave days than the nations at the base. EY, at that point, executed an approach with equivalent maternity and paternity leave – which brought about lower turnover rates for ladies.