The raging pandemic has pushed people beyond reasonable limits, and has adversely affected women disproportionately.
Balancing work and family has always been a challenge, but the pandemic has pushed people beyond reasonable limits, and adversely affected women disproportionately. Women--who often shoulder the burden of childcare and elderly care--have been in crisis this past year, struggling to take care of their families, their work responsibilities, and themselves. Since the pandemic's onset over a year ago, women have been forced to decelerate or pause their careers, or leave the workplace entirely in unprecedented numbers.
Against this harrowing backdrop, there are a number of actions companies can take to support working caregivers through the COVID crisis and beyond.
Working in a remote home/work environment is tough enough--requiring the “normal” rigidity of the 9-to-5 working schedule may force women to choose between their jobs and their family’s well-being. Nowadays, during regular business hours, women may need time to manage young ones and/or the elderly at home who are completely dependent;, support their school-age kids through homeschooling and/or online classes; manage all the mealtimes and household duties, which have increased tenfold since everyone is home. All this, on top of regular work meetings responsibilities.
True support requires formal policy changes and recalibrating expectations across the organization, endorsed by all levels of leadership from the executive team down. Change needs extend beyond your company’s people managers, as using their discretion on a case-by-case basis may mean inconsistent approaches, applications, and understanding. Some recommendations include:
Remote environments require even more communication for employees to cultivate clear and consistent communication channels and avoid misinterpretation.
Also, keep in mind that some childless and/or male employees may view additional support for working women unequal treatment. Seize the opportunity to continue to elevate the conversation around the challenges of being a female, parent, and person of color. Be upfront and honest about the challenges facing working women, and observe and address each individual’s situation in order best support them.
As vaccines become more widely available and the world redefines what the future of work looks like, be prepared to shift and change. Policies are meant to be iterative, so keep observing, learning, and adjusting to make sure yours are flexible and meet the needs of your employees, so your organization can thrive too.
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