Women, particularly working mothers, have faced distinct challenges during the pandemic. A recent McKinsey study found that “one in four women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce due to Covid-19.” Numerous studies and economic models show the pandemic has had a negative impact on women in the workforce. On March 25 at 12 p.m. ET, Allyson Park, Global Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Mars led a Think Thursday conversation to explore how organizations can achieve greater inclusion and diversity in the workplace, and the role communications plays in that.
Here are some key takeaways:
- Listen first to the needs of your people and those you serve (clients, consumers, customers).
- Reinforce the message that individual circumstances aren’t going to be held against your people in the new work environment. This comes into play with all facets of equity, but is particularly notable when addressing the issue of women dropping out of the workforce during the pandemic. Companies need to champion the message that they will collaborate with employees to build a new way of working that is compatible with our new way of living.
- Follow up the listening with tangible actions that improve people’s lives. Some company examples shared on the call included: subsidized child care up to 30 days per year, subsidized food delivery of $50-100 per month, expanding workday flexibility including meeting-free Fridays and encouraging more awareness on not having meetings between 7-9 am, stipends up to $1750 to help during the pandemic and outfit home environments for working, on-demand training sessions that can be watched anytime and more. It’s crucial to determine the struggles people are actually facing.
Remember that inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. Keep everyone involved in the process of instituting new DE&I programs, while being conscious to avoid placing the burden of change on impacted or underrepresented people in your organization.