Pandemic has exacerbated gender inequality
A detailed report, produced by Sharon Peake, founder and CEO at Shape Talent, has exposed why women in the workplace across Britain and Europe have been so severely impacted by COVID-19.
Sharon Peake, founder and CEO at Shape Talent, said: “The fact is: pre-existing gender inequalities have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and many of the hard-earned gains in women’s equality in the workplace, particularly at leadership levels, have been eroded. Women, the world over, are exhausted by the impact of gender bias.”
Predictions by The World Economic Forum expect that the gender pay gap is not going to close for another 136 years, as a direct impact of the pandemic. This is an increase of 36 years on the previous Global Gender Gap Report, which predicted 99.5 years.
Peake explained: “Since time began, gender equality has been viewed as a women’s issue and the focus has been on how to ‘fix’ women. This report does not exist to tell us how unacceptable this is – it is here to provide business leaders with the insight that can focus their strategies on sustainable change and ultimately accelerate gender equality.”
The paper outlines the three barriers that are summarised below:
- Societal barriers: Subtle and often unspoken cultural cues and messages that reinforce the ways that men and women ‘ought’ to think, behave and feel
- Organisational barriers: The hurdles experienced in the workplace and a combination of systemic obstacles, cultures and norms which disadvantage women
- Personal barriers: A diverse range of hindrances, including how women present in the workplace and how they manage the work-family interface.
The paper lists eight guiding principles companies can adopt to counteract the barriers; these are:
- Link inclusion and diversity to business strategy
- Set the tone from the top
- Make inclusion part of cultural change programme
- Take an evidence-based approach
- Engage men
- Build and accelerate the pipeline
- Enable a level playing field
- Narrow the focus