Women, work and 2021

2020 was a demanding year, especially for women in business. But 2020 also showed us how compassionate, resilient, and innovative people can be. It brought communities together, got neighbours talking, opened the eyes of business to new ways or working and made Mr Bezos even more wealthy. We realised the roles that were really important in times of crisis, and yet undervalued, such as our NHS, retail teams and essential services.

This time last year, who knew we’d be zooming, teaming up, home schooling, doing our own nails, hair, living in PJ bottoms with blouses. We’ve all had to adapt, from our children to our parents and grandparents. Even the pets. So what next?

Well I feel quite optimistic about the coming year, we have the long-awaited Covid-19 vaccine being rolled out, the mood is shifting from when will it end to adapting to the new ways.

I am so looking forward to meeting up with friends, family, and colleagues in person again — we love Zoom it has been a godsend, but zoomatigue is real — and we need the human touch. The big thing is we can’t just go back to the way things were… we need to make sure we have learnt from this and that we take forwards the art of the possible.

2020 offered business leaders valuable lessons on everything from building successful remote teams to offering flexible schedules that meet parents’ needs. In a year of huge change, companies found ways to adapt, and I believe this experience will inform their ways of working and culture moving forward.

What changed in 2020?

Businesses are learning to flex.

The pandemic forced many companies to leave the office and work remotely. For the business stuck in the’ old’ ways they have come to realise people don’t need to share a workspace to be great at their jobs. If companies continue to allow employees to work from anywhere after the pandemic is over, that increased flexibility will benefit working parents and carers — and anyone who has other priorities outside of work.

The inequalities in the division of household workload showed their face.

With whole families at home,all trying to work or attend school remotely, parents had to take responsibility for not just their careers, but also their children’s education, not to mention other household tasks like doing the washing, food shopping and cooking dinner. Many of those household duties have traditionally been performed by women in opposite-sex relationships, but with both partners home, that invisible workload became more visible. This has inspired families to divide household responsibilities more equitably, and that’s great news for women. Even to the point children have been encouraged to play their part. Great team work.

However this is not always the case and we are seeing burn out. Stress and depression on the rise. Many women losing their jobs and senior pipeline fills for females being decimated by redundancies . Women are proving themselves in leadership so it is essential we give them the opportunities to rise I. The ranks of leadership.

So what does 2021 have in store for us?

More women will achieve “firsts.”

As inspiring as it was to see Kamala Harris elected as the first woman Vice President of the United States, and to hear about the incoming administration’s all-women communications team, it will be even more meaningful to watch these women officially take on their White House roles in 2021.

We need to join together in encouraging women everywhere to be brave, put themselves out there, and pursue their dreams — even the ones that feel impossible. It can be intimidating to be the first woman in a certain role or the only woman in the room for an important meeting, but when women take on these challenges with courage and conviction, they set an example for other women to follow.

More men will become allies to women at work. Reaching gender equity in the workplace will take a concerted effort from not just women, but also their male colleagues, across industries and career levels. As more men understand the biases and obstacles women face on the job, they will be able to speak up as allies and develop work environments where people of any gender can thrive and advance.

More young women of colour will pursue business careers. Women continue to be underrepresented in business leadership roles, and that is especially true for Black, Latinx, and Native American women, as underscored in McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2020 study, which found that Black women are less likely than employees of other races to report they have equal opportunity to advance at work.

I’ll be entering 2021 ready for positive changes like these — and I hope you will, too.

If you really want to succeed in 2021- why not join my Passion and Purpose project in March? Just click the link below to find out more…

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