The fight for equality and diversity in the workplace has unlocked opportunities for women throughout the last several decades. In just the past 5 years, more women have entered the job market and held senior leadership positions in their companies than ever before. However, the pandemic has taken a toll on female employment and brought much of this progress to a standstill.
Pandemic’s Effect on Women
Despite the progress that has been made in breaking through the glass ceiling, women still bear the majority of the responsibility when it comes to family and elder care. As a result, the health crisis has caused many women to take extended time off or leave their jobs entirely to care for at-risk family members or help with their children’s education at home.
Most of the jobs directly affected by the pandemic, like retail or food services, are held by more women than men, which means that by default women have been hit the hardest during the nationwide lockdowns. In fact, women account for over half of the job losses over the last year.
Optimize for Inclusion
This detrimental effect on gender parity actually presents a valuable opportunity for improvement. Most businesses have measured their progress only around the idea of diversity. While this is certainly an improvement, it does not necessarily lead to real change.
Diversity counts the varying number of people who fit into certain ethnic categories or genders. Inclusion, on the other hand, is the qualitative assessment of a workplace and requires looking at a different set of variables. Statistics have shown that simply having a greater number of women employed doesn’t necessarily create a better environment for advancement.
Inclusion takes into account the employment experience of your workplace. For instance, how often does a woman experience access to professional opportunities or meetings with the company leadership? Looking to these more nuanced metrics that can better assess workplace involvement and contribution is a more holistic approach to gender parity.
Entrepreneur’s Bottom Line Opportunity
At first glance, optimizing for inclusion may sound time consuming and hard to measure. Is the cost of this research worth the realized benefit? The current and upcoming workforce would answer with a resounding, “Yes!”
Studies show that a diverse and inclusive company culture is particularly attractive to the millennial generation. It’s a great way to attract top talent and increase productivity. Diverse teams have been proven to be more efficient, increase revenues, and have a higher retention rate.
As an entrepreneur, striving for inclusion and diversity in your workplace not only attracts the best employees, but is likely to contribute a positive effect on your bottom line, too.
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