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According to the National Women’s Law Center, it is estimated that 5.3 million women in the United States alone lost their jobs during the pandemic. While men have returned to their pre-pandemic labor force size, more than 1.1 million fewer women are in the labor force today than in February of 2020. Getting more women back into the workforce after COVID-19 is crucial for economic and societal progress, but women are still struggling to get there.
In today’s dynamic business landscape, gender diversity in leadership roles is not just a moral imperative; it is a strategic advantage. Here are some strategies businesses should implement in visualizing the pathway to help more women recover from the impact of the pandemic and return to the workforce.
Flexible Work Arrangements: Encourage flexible schedules and remote work options to accommodate the balance of caregiving responsibilities. Consider this for all employees so a culture isn’t cultivated where only mothers or caregivers are exercising flexible schedules, but everyone is for a more balanced approach to their personal and professional spheres.
Reskilling and Upskilling: Invest in training programs to help women acquire new skills and remain competitive in the job market.
Mentorship and Networking: Promote mentorship programs and networks that connect women with experienced leaders.
Gender-Equal Policies: Implement and enforce policies that combat gender discrimination and ensure equal pay.
Affordable Child Care: Support affordable and accessible child care services to alleviate the burden on working mothers. Invest in resources to help connect new parents with child care. Waitlists can be long and extend beyond parental leave policies, which becomes a barrier. If you have the ability, invest in on-site child development centers for employees.
Leadership Development: Create leadership development programs to empower women to advance in their careers.
Public Awareness: Raise awareness about the importance of gender diversity in leadership and its benefits.
Supportive Company Culture: Foster an inclusive and supportive workplace culture that values diversity and inclusion.
Government Initiatives: Advocate for government policies that promote gender equality in the workforce.
Research and Data: Continuously collect data on gender disparities and use research to inform decision-making.
Leading businesses have recognized the need and are actively taking steps to support and empower women leaders in the workforce. Through a combination of initiatives, mentorship programs, and a commitment to creating an inclusive workplace, some major firms are paving the way for women to excel in the workforce. Here are some companies to take note of.
The Alexander Group is committed to creating an inclusive workplace. They’ve implemented key initiatives in support of women. The Alexander Group places a strong emphasis on leadership training that promotes inclusivity and diversity. Their leadership development programs are designed to equip women with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in leadership roles, while also emphasizing the importance of creating inclusive and equitable teams. Mentorship Programs is one of the cornerstones of The Alexander Group’s approach to fostering women leaders. They pair experienced female executives with up-and-coming women within the organization, providing guidance, support, and invaluable insights into the complexities of leadership roles. These mentorship relationships help women build their confidence, expand their networks, and navigate the unique challenges they may encounter in their careers.
The firm has implemented gender-neutral policies and practices, like pay equity measures that level the playing field for all employees. This includes flexible work arrangements, family-friendly policies such as flex-time for employees with family obligations and remote work. By ensuring that women have the same opportunities as their male counterparts, The Alexander Group is actively breaking down barriers to women’s advancement.
IBM has implemented the Tech Re-Entry Program. It is a full-time, paid program for technical professionals who took a break from the workforce for one or more years and are looking to restart their careers. Returning professionals, especially women, can refresh their skills with prescriptive learning plans and work on real-world, high-impact projects. It provides training, mentorships, and networking opportunities.
Accenture implemented the “Career Reboot Program,” an exclusive program helping women return to the workforce after a career break. It is a part of the Vaahini network dedicated to women’s empowerment.
Deloitte has a Women’s Initiative (WIN) that focuses on advancing women in leadership roles and advocates for inclusion on all fronts in the hopes of closing the gender gap.
Mercer’s “When Women Thrive” initiative is a global research and consulting program focused on advancing gender diversity and equality in the workplace. Mercer is a well-known human resources and financial services consulting firm. The initiative aims to help organizations create more inclusive and equitable workplaces by providing data-driven insights, tools, and strategies to promote gender diversity, close gender pays gaps, and support women’s career progression. It addresses various aspects of gender diversity, including leadership development, pay equity, and work-life balance, with the goal of helping companies foster a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
Empowering women leaders and increasing their workforce participation post-COVID requires a concerted effort from businesses, governments, and society as a whole. Businesses that are dedicated to supporting women in the workforce are not only commendable, but also a testament to the transformative power of gender diversity. These businesses are innovative and are thriving because of their investment in this work. By fostering a culture of inclusivity, providing mentorship, and advocating for change, they are not only benefiting their organization but also contributing to a more equitable and prosperous business world. As they continue to lead by example, other organizations can draw inspiration from their efforts to create a brighter future for women.