How employers can support women and create more high-trust, inclusive cultures during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
We surveyed 5,000 working women across 10 countries to hear directly from them about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the state of gender equality in the workplace. Respondents varied across age groups and the data from the survey has also enabled analysis through the intersectional lenses of race and ethnicity and sexual orientation and gender identity.
Women indicated that they are more stressed and discouraged since the pandemic began as they take on an increasing amount of responsibility at home and in their careers. Women continue to face a broad range of non-inclusive behaviors without adequate support from their direct managers and employers at large. Many employers have policies and procedures for reporting bias and discrimination, but few employers have cultivated cultures of trust where women feel comfortable voicing concerns without fearing negative career impacts.
The pandemic and employers’ unsatisfactory responses to the comprehensive pressures on women are forcing many women to make difficult decisions about whether to find another job or even leave the workforce altogether. This is a critical moment for employers to understand the changes that women want—and need—to have happen soon. We hope that this report helps organizations minimize the long-term consequences of the pandemic and rebuild workplaces with more inclusive, high-trust cultures that are fit for the future.
Our global survey shows that women are more stressed and pessimistic about their careers than before the pandemic. The pandemic has negatively impacted women’s wellbeing and relationship with their employer, but longstanding non-inclusive workplace cultures also continue to stall women’s career progression.
A perfect storm
Through the pandemic, women have taken on more responsibilities at home and at work while not receiving adequate support from their employers. Nearly 80% of surveyed women indicate that their workload at work has increased as a result of the pandemic. At the same time, 66% of women report having the greatest responsibilities for home tasks and more than half of those with children say they handle the majority of childcare duties. The mounting responsibilities are taking a clear toll on their physical health, mental wellbeing, and career ambitions.
Progress around gender equality is at risk during the pandemic
Our survey shows how women’s wellbeing has been severely impacted across a range of measures from mental health to job satisfaction. The pandemic has had an even greater impact on the careers of women in underrepresented groups. A small group of “gender equality leaders” have taken steps to create positive ‘everyday’ cultures for women, but most employers have a long way to go to foster inclusive and empowering environments where women can thrive—and want to stay.
By Michele Parmelee & Emma Codd
Download the full report here.