Addressing the gendered benefit gap is moral imperative to support women
Labor experts and equality advocates have been closely examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the future of work, particularly concerning women. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the challenges related to childcare and its effect on women’s participation in the workforce have existed long before the pandemic. A recent survey conducted by the British Standards Institute (BSI) titled “Lifting the Second Glass Ceiling” sheds light on the enduring consequences of this gender-specific burden.
The term “secondary glass ceiling” refers to the obstacles many women and marginalized individuals encounter while trying to progress to higher positions, such as the C-suite. Gender roles and associated responsibilities often hinder their advancement. In response to this issue, the BSI researchers not only stressed the need for workplace flexibility to support childcare but also emphasized the importance of considering women’s lived experiences and their reproductive health care needs.
Anne Hayes, Director of Sectors at BSI, expressed in the report that when women leave the workforce prematurely or before having the chance to reach senior positions – due to caring responsibilities, structural factors, or a lack of recognition of their contributions – it results in significant productivity losses, deprives organizations of valuable talent, and deprives newer staff of experienced mentors.
The researchers at BSI underscored that addressing the gendered benefit gap is not only a moral imperative but also presents an opportunity to foster growth, drive innovation, and expedite progress towards a sustainable world. Their proposed solution is simple yet powerful: “Ask women what they want and act on it.”
Furthermore, it’s crucial to acknowledge that the overall workplace experience has traditionally been designed by men for men, given historical gender roles. To achieve a more equitable work environment, it is vital to involve women in the decision-making process and tailor workplace policies to accommodate their needs and aspirations. By doing so, we can begin to break down the barriers that have hindered the progress of women and marginalized individuals in the professional sphere and unlock their full potential for the benefit of all.