Women’s representation improved across all levels of the corporate pipeline in 2020, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. However, there are significant disparities in the pipeline: women of colour lose ground in representation at every level, and promotions from the first step up to manager are inequitable.
McKinsey report has observed women being promoted to management positions at substantially lower rates than men, making it practically impossible for businesses to build a foundation for long-term success at higher levels. Furthermore, increases in total female representation haven’t translated into advancements for women of color.
According to a McKinsey research published in collaboration with LeanIn.org:
Women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of the corporate ladder, with just around 40% of women reaching entry-level positions and only about 20% reaching the C-Suite. Women of color have a much lower representation in the workplace than white women, with only around 17% of women of color making it to the entry-level compared to 30% of white women, and only 4% of women of color making it to the C-Suite. One in every three women has considered abandoning the workforce or downshifting their career in the year 2020, up from one in every four in the early months of the pandemic.
Microaggressions at work are more common among women than among men. However, these experiences are more common and reflect a larger spectrum of biases for women of color and women with other historically marginalized identities. For example, Black women are nearly four times as likely as White women to hear individuals express surprise at their language skills or other abilities, and Latinas and Asian women are two to three times as likely, and we detect a similar pattern for other prominent microaggressions.
During the pandemic, millions of women abandoned the workforce, and 1.3 million of them are still unemployed. According to Oxfam International, women globally lost $800 billion in earnings in 2020. To put it in context, that’s more than the combined GDP of 98 countries. The sum was described by Oxfam’s executive director as a “conservative estimate.” Some are referring to it as a “crisis in the American economy.”
The crisis has also been a setback in terms of gender diversity and a lack of female perspectives. Some of the following ideas can help companies address the ongoing crisis of women in the workplace:
Fill in the skills gap: Women are frequently turned down for positions because they lack the necessary skill set. Companies can address this issue by training and introducing women or job seekers at businesses with new digital skills, digital tools, and technology to enhance or groom their skills and help them qualify for the new digital working environment, given that the global pandemic has introduced some new learning skills, resulting in a skill gap.
Businesses can run training programmes that award digital credentials such as digital certificates and digital badges to women who demonstrate competency in a specific skill or qualification. Businesses can gamify the workplace by creating scoreboards or awarding digital badges for each progress made to encourage employee engagement and performance. Digital credentials also serve as evidence for the skill acquired, which can assist organisations in making unbiased decisions and concluding the job purely on the grounds of the credential.
The most significant action a company can take for women in the workplace is to address common issues women face through surveys, feedback, or assessment sessions. This will bring to light the most obvious challenges that women face at work and will assist the organisation in taking effective action to address them.
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