Gender equity – why you should be worried right now
THE FUTURE OF GENDER EQUITY IN A DOWNTURN
I’m worried about the future of gender equity. In recent history, we’ve gained so much but will the gains stick during an economic downturn?
On one hand, with new flexible work arrangements for all, women are definitely winners.
No longer will women be less visible than their male peers when they opt to work from home. In fact, COVID-19 work from home arrangements definitely levels the playing field in terms of visibility and ad-hoc networking and I suspect this trend will continue even after the crisis.
On the other hand, history tells us that in times of economic downturn we see a default to more conservative ways of thinking and women’s rights tend to take, not just a back seat, but a backward step.
Research tells us that;
77% of men and 55% of women believe a man is the best person to lead when the chips are down
Financial uncertainty caused by an economic crash increases the prevalence of controlling behavior between domestic partners
Domestic violence rates tend to increase, and according to a Welsh research project in 2009, domestic violence increases when women are out of work. This is concerning as we head into a period of time when lots of women will be out of work
When jobs are short many men and women still believe that it is the man who should have the job
And during an economic downturn, many women lose out because of the part-time, flexible or gig nature of much of women’s work. “According to the British government’s figures, 40% of employed women work part-time, compared with only 13% of men. In heterosexual relationships, women are more likely to be the lower earners, meaning their jobs are considered a lower priority when disruptions come along. And this particular disruption could last months, rather than weeks. Some women’s lifetime earnings will never recover.” (The Coronavirus Is a Disaster for Feminism, The Atlantic, March 2020)
Let’s be honest, right now in Australia, most Executive Leadership Teams are still predominantly men. This means gender equity and diverse thinking in the “war room” or at the pointy end of the enterprise working on critical solutions, may not be a priority as we all deal with this crisis.
MY CALL TO EXECUTIVE WOMEN EVERYWHERE
So my call to executive women who still have a role is this:
Your organisation needs you, your voice and your opinion at the table if they are to not just survive but reinvent and thrive in a new and sustainable way
Stay visible and find creative ways to gain your seat at the table and for your voice to be heard
Be the leader you want to see
While your “helper” archetype may be strong, ensure your #1 priority is you, because you’ll be able to lead more effectively and help more people, when you’re not worn out, exhausted or ill.
TO BOARDROOMS AROUND THE GLOBE
And my call to the men and women of the Boardroom?
Ensure that gender equity report cards remain front and centre so we not only deal with COVID-19 and subsequent economic and societal fall out much better, but we don’t lose track of the diversity performance lever along the way.
After all, more leading women may just be the ticket to return us to more prosperous and optimistic times, far faster.
>> YOUR THOUGHTS? Drop me a note – how are you coping through the COVID-19 crisis? Keep in touch.
#womenofimpact #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #genderequity