What organizations can do to help women succeed during the pandemic.
Employers need to understand that there is no time like the present to revisit how we work, not just because of the pandemic but because of diversity in the sexes. Women need more accommodations than ever before. Not because they are weaker or do not have the capabilities. It is because the way they are working has changed. The sudden increase in remote work has left many professionals dealing with even more challenges in trying to balance work and home, but we knew there was never truly a balance.
Organizations must consider the future of the workplace as many roles and the associated talent may not be returning to an office space as quickly as everyone may like. With no clarity on how to deal with individual health concerns, those who have or have not been vaccinated, and all the other unknowns, employers are scrambling as to how to move forward. Many have decided to stay working remotely until next year as they determine solutions to the many questions they have and their employees’ concerns.
Working remotely is not a new concept. This pandemic has proven where there is a will, there is a way. Employers can look for ways to continue the efforts of letting employees work remotely. Perhaps consider a hybrid model or on-site shared workspace. Such initiatives will help attract and retain women and working mothers. Continue the efforts that have been working over the last year and adding additional support such as those mentioned above to increase the success and performance of your employees. It is an investment on both sides.
During this pandemic, women are trying to work with kids at home, educate them, caring for their parents, and keeping themselves healthy physically and mentally. Increasing work demands will not help. Employers cannot continue to ignore the impact of increasing inequity on women in terms of pay, positions, and leadership. A sustainable workplace for women is inevitable and no longer can be placed on the list of low priority. What can organizations do to get this moving in the right direction? How do we support mothers who want to continue their careers and take care of their families?
Organizations must revisit their budgets to allocate funds to support the needs of their female employees and their path to success.
■ Reconsider a childcare partnership. Previously, childcare facilities were placed on-site to assist mothers in having their children close, provide a more cost-effective option, and help with time management. Employers can partner with childcare facilities in the local areas where their employees are to offer options that can support the needs of the business and parents.
■ Invest in small business daycares with resources to accommodate your employees, provide personal protective equipment to these facilities, include them in your benefits offerings and allow them to expand by using some of the commercial space you may have that is not being used. Consider sponsorship of activities, meals, technology, nurses onsite, etc.
■ Gift meals to families. Have delivery services provide meals, perhaps once a week, so that is one less task working mothers must consider.
■ Partner with housekeeping services to offer your top performers with having their home cleaned as a reward.
■ Create programs with grocery chains to offer more shopping and delivery services for working mothers.
■ Create initiatives or programs to assist with tutoring children to continue the growth of the next generation workforce.
The unspoken topic affected the most during the pandemic is mental well-being. Individuals with greater responsibilities and others depending on them are impacted even more. Providing mindfulness and mental health solutions to employees, especially working mothers, is good business. Productivity and results suffer when there are competing priorities. Providing counseling, coaching, mastermind groups, and therapists to support employees are added benefits to support wellness. Exercise should also be revisited to promote wellness. Increasing these options in your healthcare benefits can be attractive incentives and save the company money in the long run. These are all ways to increase productivity, reduce the cost of sick leave or time off, and minimize risks.
By no means are we anywhere near to achieving equality and equity in pay and opportunities in leadership for women, but we will not get there continuing with the same approaches, excuses, and lack of real action. By incorporating these additional strategies, we can begin to help establish a greater path of success for women in the workplace.