Equality gap 'much bigger' due to coronavirus, says CIO
The coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic effect on the workplace. Whilst for some, the move to remote working may well be seen as an improvement on the traditional 9-to-5 office-based structure, it seems that the detrimental effects of changes to the working world as a result of the pandemic have negatively impacted some in the workplace more than others.
The latest research from the Fawcett Society found that women were more likely than men to lose work or be burdened with childcare in the coronavirus crisis. In a survey of 8,400 workers within the UK, the organisation found that one-third of working mothers had lost work or had their hours reduced due to a lack of childcare during in this time.
It also found that, whilst both men and women had spent more time caring for children, the gap between the amount of time that each gender spent parenting had grown larger.
The Fawcett Society noted that there was now a very real danger that the gender pay gap – the average difference in pay between men and women – would widen as a result and described the current position the UK was in as a ‘coronavirus crossroads’ that could impact the progress of workplace equality for the foreseeable future.
The concern was shared by business leader, Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder of Women In Tech, Ina Behrendt, who in a recent interview with Executive Grapevine noted: “The gap has unfortunately again become much bigger for those who are working from home and managing family life, maybe additionally home-schooling at the same time.
“Can you imagine the burden of balancing jobs and supporting [dependants] at the same time? And we’re not even talking about [the wellbeing effects] on mental state of mind.”
Although Behrendt believes that perception around the relationship between working and family life has changed, she still believes much needs to be done to support women in the workplace in this time.
“Those [mums] need a strong, supportive network – for sure, the understanding is there, if a child jumps into view in a meeting, but in comparison – which of the two, women or men, really has to cut back and ultimately get the short end of the stick?” she said.
Is there a clear ‘solution’ to this key issue?
Behrendt believes that much of these issues can be rectified by essentially ensuring that an equal demographic of representation is involved in all decision-making issues. Only with the insight available when women are part of this process, can solutions, that actually make a difference, be found.
“I truly believe that women belong in all places where decisions are being made – as well as men and gender-neutral people – no matter which background, race or orientation,” she noted.
“We need this diversity, in general, to learn from each other, work together and shape the future for the better. I support women, wherever I can in all sorts of aspects. Everyone deserves to be treated equally,” she concluded.