Gender equality during the pandemic and beyond

On International Women’s day it is quite fitting to talk about gender equality.

Women comprise 39% of global employment, but account for 54% of overall job losses since May 2020. Analysis* shows that women’s jobs are globally 1.8 times more vulnerable than men’s during the coronavirus pandemic.  Employers must provide flexible arrangements to help women tasked with childcare responsibilities and achieved a better work-life balance to be more productive. Women should not find themselves at a disadvantage for having to juggle work and home.

Despite growing awareness and support for gender equality, progress has stagnated between 2014 and 2019 and the pandemic has now caused a setback. Women’s unemployment is dropping faster than average even taking into consideration that they work in different sectors. Globally female jobs are 19% more at risk than men.

Business leaders need to take action in order to reverse the trend. Research* shows that gender diversity is a key to financial success: companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. Moreover, companies now pulling back on diversity and inclusion may be placing themselves at a disadvantage by limiting their access to talent, diverse skills, leadership styles, and perspectives.

Companies that are rehiring need to ensure that hiring practices consider gender diversity. If, as a company, you are investing in reskilling, female workers need to be encouraged to participate in these programmes. Firms are also exploring how they can promote internally, offer support in the way of mentoring programmes, and capitalise on the power of allyship to become fully inclusive. This is an effort that requires a bottom-up approach to reach diversity goals by attracting and promoting diverse talent from the graduate and entry levels up.  

Greater gender equality is not just good for the economy but society as a whole.

*Data from McKinsey Research