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Women in the Workplace 2020

SOURCE: mckinsey.com
PUBLISHED: 26/02/2021

The events of 2020 have turned workplaces upside down. Under the highly challenging circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees are struggling to do their jobs. Many feel like they’re “always on” now that the boundaries between work and home have blurred. They’re worried about their family’s health and finances. Burnout is a real issue. 

Women in particular have been negatively impacted. Women—especially women of color—are more likely to have been laid off or furloughed during the COVID-19 crisis,1 stalling their careers and jeopardizing their financial security. The pandemic has intensified challenges that women already faced. Working mothers have always worked a “double shift”—a full day of work, followed by hours spent caring for children and doing household labor. Now the supports that made this possible—including school and childcare—have been upended. Meanwhile, Black women already faced more barriers to advancement than most other employees.2 Today they’re also coping with the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Black community. And the emotional toll of repeated instances of racial violence falls heavily on their shoulders. 

As a result of these dynamics, more than one in four women are contemplating what many would have considered unthinkable just six months ago: downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce completely. This is an emergency for corporate America. Companies risk losing women in leadership—and future women leaders—and unwinding years of painstaking progress toward gender diversity. 

The crisis also represents an opportunity. If companies make significant investments in building a more flexible and empathetic workplace—and there are signs that this is starting to happen—they can retain the employees most affected by today’s crises and nurture a culture in which women have equal opportunity to achieve their potential over the long term. The rest of this article summarizes the report’s main findings (and you can go even deeper with a behind-the-scenes chatwith one of the report’s coauthors on our blog).

This is the sixth year of the Women in the Workplace study—in a year unlike any other. This effort, conducted in partnership with LeanIn.Org, tracks the progress of women in corporate America. The data set this year reflects contributions from 317 companies that participated in the study and more than 40,000 people surveyed on their workplace experiences; more than 45 in-depth interviews were also conducted to dive deeper on the issues. These efforts were in the field from June to August of 2020, although the pipeline data represents employer-provided information from calendar year 2019.

Click here to read the full McKinsey Report


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