When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out last year and the world went into a prolonged lockdown, corporates across the globe had indicated that they would accelerate their diversity agenda. A recent Deloitte report says that, on the contrary, gender equality at workplaces actually regressed in 2020. The pandemic took away 114 million jobs across the globe and the employment loss for women was at 5 per cent compared to 3.9 per cent for men.
One of the major reasons why women have traditionally exited the workforce is due to their employer's inability to offer them the flexibility of working from home. However, when companies actually offered them this flexibility, they didn't enjoy it as much as they thought they would. By virtue of being the primary caregiver, women employees were overworked. According to the Deloitte report, 77 per cent of respondents say that their job workload has increased as a result of the pandemic. They are also spending more time on household tasks and looking after children and loved ones than they did before the pandemic.
In India, nearly 78 per cent Indian women say they take on bulk of the household management and chores. Women in India are also more likely to take on more responsibility for childcare (47 per cent versus 38 per cent globally) and care of other dependents (30 per cent versus 23 per cent globally).
Only 22 per cent of women globally believe that their employers have enabled them to establish clear boundaries between work and personal hours. As many as 77 per cent of women say their workload has increased and 51 per cent feel less optimistic about their career prospects today than they did before the pandemic. Around 42 per cent felt their career isn't progressing as fast as they would have liked it to be.
In India, 57 per cent women say that their career is not progressing as fast. Only 31 per cent India women say that their employer's support for women during the pandemic has been sufficient. More than 61 per cent feel less optimistic about their career prospects today than before the pandemic.
Sexual harassment was prevalent in virtual workplaces too. Over 50 per cent of the women interviewed said they have experienced some form of harassment or microaggression in the past year, ranging from the belief that their judgment is being questioned because they are women to experiencing disparaging and/ or sexual comments. The data also shows that many of these events go unreported to employers, with concerns over career penalty being one of the main reasons cited.
Women across the globe are suffering from job insecurity. Nearly a third (31 per cent) of the women said they are unable to switch off from work since the pandemic, with more than half of these saying this is driven by a fear that doing so will affect their career progression (52 per cent). A third (33 per cent) say it is driven by concerns that it will cause them to be excluded from important projects, with the same number saying they are concerned that their organisation may care less about them; 15 per cent said that if they are not always available to their employer, they may be forced to make a decision between their work and personal lives. More than 26 per cent of Indian women are considering leaving the workforce altogether compared to 23 per cent of their global sample.
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