Until recently, women have not always called out challenges to their rights in the workplace. If we’ve learned one thing from the past few months, please can it be that we can no longer tolerate the status quo? Women disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and lockdown by Hannah Strawbridge.
For many women, if we’re honest (even uncomfortably so) maybe we feel that we can’t call out actions that diminish women’s rights in the workplace because we have C-suite level clients or colleagues who are men, and we don’t want to put them off by beating the feminist drum.
Or, maybe as women, we avoid calling out these behaviours as the thought of being given a step-up into a role or promotion on account of being female, does not sit easily with me. We want people to judge us on merit, not on our sex.
Both examples are a trap. We have to call it out for it to change, no matter how we might feel about how it might be perceived.
Women are tired of having to explain why they need to work from home for a day, tired of having to explain why it is them who had to take the kids to school or look after a parent, tired of feeling like they are failing in their careers and as a mother. That constant noise has been in the background of many women’s decisions to set up their own businesses and do things their way instead.
One outcome of Covid is that we have no choice but to call out on its dire impact on women’s rights. The statistics and the evidence around how women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic are staggering and should make all of us angry.
Women are nearly 50% more likely than men to lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic. Read that again. The knock-on effect of this for women’s rights and the global economy cannot be understated.
Daily examples abound of women who have had their pay cut because they have been doing the lion’s share of home-schooling. Many women have decided to hand in their notice because they are overwhelmed and stressed out from having to do it all. Other women, whilst pregnant and defined as vulnerable, are being forced to go to work.
This has to stop.
The government, lacking in female leaders, has to take responsibility, but so do we all, and so do businesses. Questions must be asked as to why the economy was being encouraged to ‘return to normal’ while schools remained shut and social distancing rules prevented grandparents from helping with childcare. This impacts everyone but it disproportionately impacts women.
Research carried out, and the articles are written, all show that the problem is a real one. Is it cynical to suggest that the only way solutions can be found, is to focus on the impact of this to the global economy? Maybe, but perhaps we will all then take note, and businesses will step up to help. Where women’s rights in the workplace are reduced, this will result in fewer female leaders. Where there are fewer female leaders, decision-making processes suffer which will negatively impact the economy.
If we don’t act right now, we will all suffer for generations to come.