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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted female workers. Industries where women hold the majority of jobs – such as the leisure, hospitality, and service industries – were hit the hardest at the beginning of the pandemic and have yet to fully recover. Additionally, women are spending more time on childcare with many schools working remotely and some daycares closed. 

 According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 140,000 net jobs were lost in December of 2020. Women actually lost 156,000 jobs while men gained 16,000. How can business leaders help support and empower their female workers?

Provide Flexibility in Scheduling
A little flexibility can go a long way when it comes to supporting women workers during the pandemic. Whether it’s allowing an employee to work from home or allowing for more malleable work hours, flexibility is crucial. 

Plan In Advance
Planning meetings and work schedules in advance can help workers plan any caregiving needs around their work schedules. Additionally, consolidating meetings into preplanned portions of the day can help workers plan around them.

Help workers feel engaged in their role
Female workers may be more likely to continue in roles that they are passionate about than ones where they feel disengaged. Because of the pandemic, workers may be facing a difficult (and unnecessary) choice between providing care for their child and continuing their career. Helping them find a role where they thrive is an excellent way to support them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Policy Review
Take time to review employment policies and update them for any pandemic-related changes.  Employee benefits may also benefit from updating. Rather than offering gym memberships that will go unused, other options such as online education or training opportunities for the employee and her family may be much more useful.

Support Women Returning to the Workforce
Reentering the workforce after time away can be extremely difficult. Business leaders may have questions about their dedication to the role and fear that workers may no longer be able to perform the duties of the role. Meet those returning to the workforce with empathy and help foster a conversation about the challenges they may face so that you can easily help them succeed.

Bio Card 2 - Cate Lemmond