Impact on Women and their careers in the last two years
The pandemic has impacted many groups of people and made the inequality even more prevalent for women. Women have often struggled with work life balance;, trying to sort out childcare, looking after elderly relatives plus other family challenges. The pandemic has created even more division and stressors for working women who are trying to juggle working from home combined with new and evolving challenges at work. They are also primarily responsible for home schooling and dealing with constant worries of children being sent home from school due to Covid outbreaks.
Many women are now feeling burnt out with no end in sight. As a result, they have often put their own careers on hold so they can be home to meet the family challenges or look around for organizations that provide more flexible and supportive environments for working women.
What can Canadian workplaces do to retain women during these stressful times?
With potential return of female employees to the workplace, all business leaders need to understand how to support women in areas of mental health and wellness as there has been a rise of 100% in rates of depression and anxiety for mothers. This even higher still for mothers who are Indigenous, black, or other women of colour.
Leaders need to continue to maintain some of the positive changes we have all seen from the pandemic such as flexible work schedules, part time working, compressed work weeks, job sharing etc. Workplaces also need to continue advocating for better and more affordable childcare.
Women also need to continue advocating for themselves and consider their own career development. However systemic barriers still exist in many workplaces and organizations need to recognize the issues and understand how they can support women in their career progression by: -
Awareness and understanding of the specific needs for women – Leaders need to consider and address the differences between developing women and men for future leadership roles.
Leadership training and coaching designed specifically for women - Developing training for women to strengthen emotional intelligence, learn different approaches for effectively handling common obstacles, and develop the skills necessary to stand out as a leader.
Creating a mentoring/sponsorship program - Programs for both mentors and sponsors are critical to help aspiring women leaders gain the perspective and connections they need to take on larger roles and advance their careers.
Networking groups of like-minded peers – Women network differently to men; they are more focused on building long-term personal connections or friendships. They also frequently seek advice for both personal and professional needs and so enjoy meeting up with others in similar situations (i.e., other working moms, single parents, single women etc.).
If business leaders don’t take note of these issues, they could lose great, talented women to competitors who are more progressive and forward thinking in developing programs for women to assist them with their career development needs and work life balance concerns.