Why Women Will Thrive in a Post-Covid World
A Blog from our Founder: "There's been a lot of doom and gloom around the current situation and its impact on the female of the species since worldwide lockdown began. I have to say, I see it differently long term, and after a survey over the weekend from the Straits Times revealed that almost 90% of us would like to continue the #WFH style of working, I wanted to explain briefly why.
- #WFHforever - Let's start with the most obvious here. According to our research, across Asia the number one reason that women are prevented from returning to work is the lack of flexibility many employers offer. In fact, 98% of women think that if more flexible work were available, they'd return to their careers tomorrow. With Twitter recently announcing a total shift in their WFH policy - namely that their employees can 'work from home forever' - and companies actively proving day to day that, yes, the office is not the only place that the work gets done, this shift isn't just physical but mental. It categorically opens up flexibility to ALL employees, meaning that not only is the world of work more possible for women, but that those 'female' caring roles - family, dependents, the house, the dog etc. - can now genuinely be shared across the spectrum. How revolutionary!
- A Blended Reality - Which brings me to my second point. How many Zoom calls (or Skype, if we must) have you been on recently where a colleague's five year-old pops up while their partner can be heard home-schooling in the background? This, my friends, is what's called real life and has never, ever stopped just because you stepped across the threshold of an office door. Does that mean you don't get your to-do list done? No, it just means you have to take into account that life is messy and complicated and full on for everyone; and that people need to be able to deal with that in their own way. If that means logging on post-kids' bedtime, so be it. Let's all remember that home-schooling isn't a longterm solution; sometime soon that part of this whole experience will get easier, but understanding that both parents need to deal with family life both inside and outside of any kind of career has to evolve. Now is our opportunity to really achieve a new normal and for all of us to see how that's possible.
- Travel Bans - Anyone remember the airport? A distant dream, even for those of us who travelled extensively for work. The very idea of hopping on a plane week in week out simply sounds preposterous. And let's face it, it always kind of was. Aside from the environmental costs, there's also the impact to the bottom line of any business for flights, per diems, hotels and entertainment budgets. I have a very good friend who had to freeze and ship her breast milk back for her 4 month-old baby on a trip last year (and this is not so uncommon a story as you might think...). Travel is always one of the key issues where women accepting or maintaining senior positions is concerned, often causing heartache, childcare issues and huge disruption to family life. Quite frankly, the very idea of leaving family behind to attend a couple of meetings three timezones from home for a week is going to be very antiquated, very soon. Though a long weekend might be nice right now...
- An Even(er) Playing Field - I know, that's not a word, but let's imagine for a second that as an employer you've had to let go of 50% of your workforce and post-Covid your needs as a business have fundamentally changed. More of your day to day is online; your office has downsized (maybe you don't have one at all anymore); you've evolved the way you monitor output - however that might look, essentially the hiring game has changed and pipelines have been destroyed. It is a loss to many in the short term, but herein lies the opportunity because new skills will be required for many companies out there in the future. So the field has suddenly opened up - not only will businesses need to hire again (and in volume), but those job descriptions have changed and places that you never thought you might apply to may now need your skillset. Yes, I know none of us like to hear that chaos is an opportunity ladder, but truly if you want to change your reality now is the time to research, network and invest.
- Why Women? - And why, as an employer, might you specifically look to hire more women when re-building your pipeline? Ok, aside from the much vaunted fact that teams with more gender diverse make-up have a 15% better chance of profitability and 70% of firms want to hire more women in the future (thank you McKinsey and LinkedIn), women are simply champions at getting stuff done...well. During this crisis, we've all seen the image of the six global female leaders - Jacinda, Angela, Tsai & co. - describing the way they've dealt quite differently and ultimately successfully with the virus in their respective domains. But here's the thing - these women are not unique. We all know an Angela and a Jacinda; someone who just sucks it up, listens and acts - with empathy, understanding and impact. I have best friends, colleagues, clients who do the same. These are the women we need in leadership; these are the change-makers of the future.
To my mind, these practical realities are way overdue and much needed in our modern world; this is a chance to catch up with what technology has made possible and our societies are demanding. And without all the nonsense around office hours, commuting and travel keeping it at bay, what exactly is stopping that from happening?"
Helen McGuire, Co-Founder, Hopscotch.work & Diversely