When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, most of the world went into some type of lockdown. With the majority of families being forced to virtually school their children, millions of women were forced out of the workforce to care for their families. In addition to the higher performance standards, narrower paths to promotion, and unspoken penalties for using flexible work options, this severely impacted the biases women already face in the workplace. As a result, it’s more important than ever that employers actively work to close the gender gap.
Here are four ways companies can work to close the gender gap made worse by the pandemic.
1. Have Management Talk with Employees
Set aside time for managers to talk with female employees about what their daily experience is like. For instance, encourage them to share what it’s really like being working mothers while managing their children’s schooling. Also, have your managers find out how these challenges increase for single mothers and women of color. Use these discussions to see what your employees think about your company policies. For instance, are they aware of the flex work policies you may have? If so, are they being used? If not, why?
2. Remind Managers to Lead with Empathy
Emphasize the importance of leading with empathy. With everything from Zoom fatigue to ongoing uncertainty during the pandemic, employees are more likely than ever to experience burnout. This is especially true for women who take primary responsibility for child care, schooling, and household management. As a result, managers need to reevaluate their benchmarks for employee performance to better align with what’s possible right now. For instance, managers should remind their teams that because they have no idea what goes on in others’ lives, they should not be letting unconscious bias shape their perceptions of coworkers.
3. Reexamine Company Policies
Make sure your policies are in line with what matters most to your company. For instance, since your organization most likely has employee health and safety as its top priority, make sure it has taken appropriate action, such as offering PTO for family issues. Also, because parents probably have been supporting each other as they navigate remote schooling and workday challenges, consider forming an employee resource group with this objective. Additionally, remind employees at all levels to regularly check in with each other.
4. Promote Women in Leadership Roles
Encourage managers to create a solid foundation for females to advance to leadership positions. This includes providing opportunities for the education, training, and skill-building required to move up. For instance, during one-on-one meetings, talk about the qualifications needed to advance to the next level. Discuss the one the employee has and specific ways they can gain the ones they need. Also, set a plan and a timeline for the employee to earn the promotion.
Hire Top Female Employees
As a women-owned company, Staffing Texas supports the employment of female staff members and job candidates. Let us help your company close the gender gap caused by the COVID-19 lockdown. Contact us with your staffing needs today!