The COVID-19 pandemic has caused communities and people’s lives to transform. It has exacerbated the inequalities of our society, especially gender biases and the inequities womxn of color face. The challenges faced have brought attention to the changes we need in a post-COVID world.
Studies are clear: the pandemic’s burden primarily weighed on womxn. Schools and childcare closures forced parents—especially mothers—to be responsible for caring and looking after their children, causing womxn to leave their jobs and cut back working hours. The service industry employs a majority of womxn, and the pandemic caused industry wide layoffs and closures. From February 2020 to January 2021, 2.5 million womxn left their jobs in comparison to 1.8 million men.
Our society is far from gender parity, and the past year has exacerbated these inequalities. Womxn have made great strides toward equality, but the pandemic has caused setbacks for womxn in the workplace everywhere. These setbacks are apparent, and we as individuals, businesses, and policymakers cannot choose to look the other way.
One theme this Womxn’s History Month was Choose to Challenge because a challenged world is an alert world. From challenge comes awareness, and the pandemic has shined the spotlight on gender inequality in society today. We are responsible for our actions each day, and we can call out gender biases and lift up other womxn. Each day individuals can take action to challenge gender biases and stand up for womxn. We can do more.
As the world plans for recovery womxn must be top of mind. We seek to build back better and be a more inclusive and sustainable society. We cannot do so without addressing the inequalities magnified by the pandemic. Policy makers, companies, and individuals will need to come together to be a part of the solution.
We must challenge the post-COVID workplace to create more inclusive environments that encourage equity. The B Corp community serves as a model for other businesses. B Corps are committed to inclusion and the retention and advancement of womxn in the workplace. This community is built on the premise of using “business as a force for good”. Together, the B Corp community is advancing workplaces where womxn (amongst others that have been systemically stripped of power) are poised for success.
As the world recovers post-COVID, let’s Choose to Challenge and call out inequities. Let’s choose to lift other womxn up to build back better.