How tech companies can combat the implications of COVID-19 on the women workforce
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Here's how companies can bring about small changes to help their women employees

How tech companies can combat the implications of COVID-19 on the women workforce

Here's how companies can bring about small changes to help their women employees
  • Women in the workforce have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Amalia Avramov, Group President, Amdocs writes about a few simple things that can help bring women back to the workforce and also make sure they feel supported.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on people, organizations, and regions in different ways. But when it comes to the workforce, women have been disproportionately affected. According to a study by McKinsey, women’s jobs have been 180% more vulnerable than men’s due to the weight of unpaid care. According to the report, nearly 2 million women worldwide have taken a leave of absence or left their jobs altogether to effectively balance their at-home responsibilities.

This is clearly a problem. In our industry, women already make up too small percentage of the workforce, especially in leadership positions. For India specifically, Zinnov-Intel claims that only 11% of senior leadership roles are comprised of women. This already low representation, combined with COVID-19, put the future workforce at risk. The tech industry must adjust and better champion women whose lifecycles have changed due to these unprecedented times.

In 2021, companies will look at how women’s lifestyles have changed due to the pandemic and act accordingly. For example, while COVID-19 may have helped close the gender gap in some ways, it’s causing new stresses in others. On both a large and small scale across so many of our day-to-day tasks, we’ll continue to feel these side effects, and we need to be prepared to handle this future accordingly.

Let’s look at how companies and women in tech, like myself, can empower women employees to combat the lasting implications of COVID-19.

Being a champion of trust and empathy
The past few decades have demonstrated the strength and determination with which women have to break the glass ceiling, while simultaneously performing the lion’s share of childcare responsibilities. However, now is not the time for anyone to try to make it on their own. As managers and executive leaders, we need to show other women they can do it and lift others up based on their own experiences. We need to encourage women and enable empathy not just for themselves, but for each other, so they can progress in both their careers and lives, despite all they’re dealing with on nearly every front.

Of course, the conversation about returning to the office is also on everyone’s minds, causing anxiety for many. It's up to executive teams to share long-term plans covering both the emotional and physical aspects of the new normal. Given all the uncertainties, employees aren't expecting their leaders to have all the answers. Still, they expect transparency and a concerted effort to establish a plan that reflects an understanding of the challenges they’re facing.

Beyond this, it’s time to pause and rethink our daily interactions with our teams. Acknowledge that people are doing their best, respect boundaries and remember that global organizations are all experiencing varying degrees of lockdown. Flexibility, sensitivity and empathy are critical.

Build a healthy flexible ecosystem for employees – both in the office and at home
One positive point that a remote work experience has brought us all is the same size square on video collaboration tools like Zoom. Now that we are in a mostly virtual environment with what feels like significantly reduced hierarchy in many organizations, we must embrace this new ecosystem and ensure its impact is here to stay.

As tech companies struggle with attracting, retaining and progressing women, we must provide a culture of inclusion and innovation, including the realization and flexibility in our way of working, realizing that there are more responsibilities beyond work.

Additionally, we need to ensure those who were forced to leave their roles receive the training and support they need after they return to the workforce. There are many ways to offer a supportive culture, and these changes will not happen overnight. We’ve now had time to prepare for future disruptions, but it's most important to take what we have learned over the past few months and communicate our progress and plans to employees.

The importance of digital inclusion
Remote work has shown us that roles, responsibilities, and requirements for jobs aren’t as uncompromising as we may have thought, leading to a more balanced ecosystem across the board. We need to evolve — flexible working is a must for all genders, as is ongoing training to keep confidence levels high at this disruptive time.

As a woman in this industry, I’m confident that the industry will come out stronger from COVID-19’s impact. I believe the workplace's future will put a heightened focus on making women feel comfortable and heard. Regardless of the role you play in this shift, make sure to be positive and an ally to those around you.