The pandemic has been a demanding time for everyone, especially for women in business. But it 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 of working and made Mr Bezos even more wealthy. So much so he went to space in an amusing shaped rocket (no issues there then)
We realised the roles that were really important in times of crisis, and yet undervalued, such as our NHS, retail teams and essential services. Even the Government is starting totalise this too.
In 2019, who knew we’d have been 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 positive about the rest of the year and beyond. Vaccinations are well underway, the mood is shifting, the economy is starting to open up more fully. I’ve been to a flower show and CarFest – brilliant. Life is becoming more sociable again. I’ve been able to see and hug my parents and I now take time out once a week to see them. It took a pandemic for me to realise how little I did see them. Never again!
I am meeting up with friends, family, and colleagues in person again- going to the pub with our Friday night social Gang (whom we zoomed throughout the pandemic). This sounds so normal but has been so missed.
We love Zoom it has been a godsend, but zoomatigue is real — and we all need the human touch from time to time. BUT 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.
The pandemic 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 the pandemic?
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, 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 are still 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 in the ranks of leadership.
So what does the future 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 fullness.
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, Latino, 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 the future ready for positive changes like these — and I hope you will, too. My Leading Ladies in Business, helps women in companies come together and support each other. It is a program designed to help those new to leadership roles or on the career ladder succeed. In addition we support the male colleagues to understand the unique challenges women face in business today, through workshops and training.
If you really want your female colleagues to start to succeed why not get in touch