If you are paying attention to U.S. labor statistics, you will agree that the current trends for women in the workforce are less than inspiring. COVID-19 has left an additional pandemic in its wake -- women in the workforce are disappearing at an alarming rate. Between February and December 2020, 2.1 million females left the labor force. That’s a staggering number!
The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows our economy lost 140,000 net jobs in December (women losing 156,000 jobs while men gained 16,000). According to the National Women’s Law Center, the female workforce has dropped 57%, to the lowest level since 1988. Unless we lean in now, the female labor force could face its steepest sustained decline since World War II.
The issues surrounding the exodus of women from the workforce are troubling while enlightening. The pandemic has underscored the workplace disparities that plague working women: lack of childcare, pay disparities, lack of public support, uneven household responsibilities relative to housework, shopping, and meal planning. Concerns about the safety of using public transportation to go to work during the health crisis also created obstacles for many women. Now add to their plate the additional COVID-19 related struggles such as disproportionate job loss, shuttered schools, healthcare concerns and even eldercare responsibilities. More and more women find themselves struggling to maintain work along with the Sisyphean load we carry every day.
It is remarkable to me that we haven’t lost MORE women in the labor market than what we are currently experiencing.
How can we disrupt this troubling trend? A recent article in Forbes enumerated 9 tips for attracting and retaining moms in the workforce:
Shiftsmart continually strives to achieve “gender immunity” and has developed its own prescription to stem the loss of women in the labor force. By the Shiftsmart platform, women can build income, skills, and experience across multiple verticals and brands. It is empowering to set your own work schedule, grow professionally, and advance fairly while maintaining control of your personal time.
The schedule flexibility that Shiftsmart offers was particularly appealing to women at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The need to replace income from jobs that were eliminated, while also overseeing challenges from responsibilities protecting their children’s health and managing their online learning, led many women to consider flexible staffing employment. Since March 2020, nearly 400,000 new partners have registered with Shiftsmart’s global platform; 55% of whom are women.
Our data at Shiftsmart shows that the largest percentage of our workforce is working during traditional school hours of 9 am to 3 pm. We see a large dip in hours after 3 pm which leads us to conclude that parents are shifting from work to caring for their children once school is over. Among our U.S. partners, 71% of the group is working between 9 am and 3 pm.
Recently, I researched, at random, the profile of a female partner who joined our platform in March 2020. She had previously worked for 22 years at a major hospitality company. Since joining Shiftsmart, she has worked from the safety of her home for six of our major clients in their flexible contact centers, has received ongoing tier training and multiple certifications, has been certified to work both English and Spanish language shifts, and thus has continued to earn more pay, and higher priority for shift selections. Rather than await an annual review and hope that her employer rewards her work with a pay increase while juggling household and family responsibilities, she is able to chart her own success via ongoing training, adding/deleting shifts as her schedule allows (as opposed to when her employer demands she report to work each day), and control her own income increases and productivity.
Without equivocation, I can say Shiftsmart strives to create a culture where all people are valued. I believe we have created a model of how to provide opportunity, support and empathy to women in the workforce, not only during a pandemic, but at all times. Women will rejoin the workforce as the world slowly begins to heal from the pandemic. We forecast that they will be looking for new solutions to create successful workdays and work lives for themselves. It is important that as women return, we provide an inclusive, flexible and understanding environment with new definitions for where and when they work to keep a powerful source of talent engaged with the labor market.
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