Pandemic Challenges Pressure Women to Leave Workforce

A recent McKinsey & Company report details how women in particular have been negatively impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the report, “women are more likely to have been laid off or furloughed during the COVID-19 crisis, stalling their careers and jeopardizing their financial security.”

The pandemic has intensified challenges for women in the workforce, and “more than one in four women are contemplating what many would have considered unthinkable just six months ago: downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce completely. 

Women with children under 10 are most likely to be considering this drastic step. “Many mothers are considering downshifting their career or leaving the workforce, and mothers are significantly more likely to be thinking about taking these steps than fathers,” the report states. Additionally, the majority of mothers considering downshifting or leaving the workforce cite childcare responsibilities as a primary reason.

The report suggests the following areas in which companies can focus their efforts to better support and help retain women in the workplace:

  • Make work more sustainable.
  • Reset norms around flexibility.
  • Take a close look at performance reviews.
  • Take steps to minimize gender bias.
  • Adjust policies and programs to better support employees.
  • Strengthen employee communication.