A funny thing happened on the way to post-pandemic economic recovery: around 2 million women who were forced out of or left jobs during “stay at home” orders decided not to return. Of those still employed, one in three women are seriously considering leaving their jobs.
Sexual harassment, lack of flexibility and work-life balance, and cluelessness about how to value women in the workforce dissolved women’s motivation to return to workplaces that don’t value their contributions. Learn more about why so many women are leaving the workforce.
“Working from home” took on a whole new dimension for parents when schools and day care operations closed. Suddenly parents became homeschoolers, and they had to put in long hours at their laptops while also attending to the needs of anxious, hungry, wet, bored, or exhausted infants and toddlers. If workplaces without child care assistance didn’t get it before, they have no excuse now.
As if taking on schooling and day care at home along with a full workload wasn’t enough, many women experienced pressure to do more work at home during the pandemic. Some employers showed little or no flexibility for working women who took on additional responsibilities at home.
A survey by Deloitte found that 80 percent of the women surveyed reported an increased workload during the pandemic, and 66 percent of those same women said they’d also taken on more responsibility at home. Burnout, exhaustion, and a need for greater balance in their lives pushed women out of the workforce and made them think twice about whether it’s worth going back.
And CNBC reports that added responsibilities at work, such as leading DEI initiatives, go unrecognized and uncompensated. Despite DEI initiatives, women of color continue to experience racism in the workplace.
The #Metoo movement unveiled well-known broadcasters and filmmakers as sexual predators. However, service industries with heavily female workforces have also fostered or tolerated toxic workplaces that subjected women to regular harassment.
In particular, restaurants have come under fire for discriminatory practices, like grading women and assigning work based on physical appearance or tolerating abusive customers by enforcing “service with a smile” rules.
The pandemic gave women time to step away from toxic workplaces and put them in a position to demand better if employers want them back.
Millions of working women have decided they’ve had enough of unfair treatment, rigid or unpredictable schedules, and the expectation that their jobs are more important than their kids. Employers who don’t adjust damage the overall economy.
Failing to draw women back into the workforce will stunt US productivity. When employers learn why so many women are leaving the workforce, they’ll have the opportunity to make changes to bring them back, which will help spark an economic recovery.