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Published: March 18, 2021
Author: Aniruddha Ganguly

COVID-19 has hit gender diversity, threatening to stall organizational development

UN Women news says ‘Women are overrepresented in many of the industries hardest hit by COVID-19, such as food service, retail, and entertainment. Projections from the ILO suggest that due to COVID-19 women’s employment is 19% more at risk than men. As quarantine measures keep people at home, close schools, and day-care facilities, the burden of unpaid care and domestic work has exploded. Both for women and men. But even before COVID-19, women did 300% more unpaid care work than men, worldwide. School and daycare closures, along with the reduced availability of outside help, have led to months of additional work for women. The responsibility of caring for sick and elderly family members often falls on women as well.’

Unsurprisingly, according to a recent McKinsey study, ‘one in four women are considering leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers versus one in five men’. Another McKinsey report states that ‘By our calculation, women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s jobs.’

Clearly, all this data tells us that gender diversity is quietly taking a hit at the workplace.

While globally women have made great strides in leadership, the proportion of women in senior roles has been stagnant at only 24% for the last decade and it has now dipped with the onset of the pandemic. There is currently fewer number of women on the Boards of S & P 500 companies.

So what?

The United Nations estimated some years back that failure to utilize female talent costs Asia about 90 billion USD in annual output. Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women on boards financially outperform companies with a lower representation of women on Boards. Gender-diverse teams have higher sales and profits compared to male-dominated teams. 

Women might do more than boost profits. Having more women in an enterprise makes that organization a better place to work in.

COVID-19 is not done yet! This pandemic should alert corporate leadership to be ever more attentive to women employees’ professional & personal wellbeing, if not for anything else but to protect, preserve and promote organizational development. Post-Covid this will be a distinct competitive advantage.

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