Prior to the new normal, women have already been facing struggles in the workplace, in the forms of pregnancy discrimination, harassment, and gender pay gaps among others. Come the pandemic, women have been encountering new struggles in maintaining their livelihood. Such arises from the fact that the industries in which they are over-represented in such as food service, retail, and education have been facing the greatest threats and declines in the new setup. Moreover, women have also been reported to be more susceptible to exhaustion and pressure at work given the constraints of the pandemic.
Evidently, from the existing, but gradually fading paradigm of prejudice against women in the workplace, more challenges embed these current systems brought about by the pandemic. In this light, there is a clear call to strengthen gender balance policies and practices amidst these unprecedented times. In response to this, remarkable, concrete steps in fostering gender equity and inclusivity have been taken by different companies across the globe that they have carried along in the new setup:
1. Creating Avenues for Purposeful Discourse
While established policies and programs impart substantial impact in promoting gender equity, simple initiatives such as inciting meaningful, organization-wide conversations may also go a long way. Such initiative has been conducted by Eaton East Asia in concretizing their advocacy for inclusivity and diversity through a series of panel discussions aimed to provide spaces for discourse on the current realities of women in their respective careers.
2. Maintaining a Balance in Career Opportunities
Even in recent times, talent acquisition systems may still favor men, especially in “male-dominated” fields. Notwithstanding, this mindset has progressed over time, resulting in multiple companies promulgating balance and fairness in choosing eligible candidates regardless of gender. For instance, the KONE Corporation ascertains that essential practices and policies for diversity and inclusion are instilled in their culture, including improving the balanced number between men and women taking up conventionally “male” roles, such as those in operations and management fields.
3. Providing Equal Pay
A progressive policy that has been implemented in recent years is the provision of equal pay, regardless of a worker’s position in an organization. To illustrate, Nestlé has been providing equal compensation for men and women in their workforce. The company has been consistent in its proactivity in reviewing their total rewards and talent management systems to effectively narrow the gender pay gaps among its workers.
In summary, the challenges of women at work in this pandemic has further aggravated the already-existing problems of gender inequity and inequality at the workplace. In response to this, companies are encouraged to further strengthen and improve their current systems for gender balance by following the trail of the aforementioned companies in fostering inclusivity and diversity in their culture. It is to note, however, that these practices only constitute only a few examples compared to the many progressive paths companies can take. Ultimately, it is up to these companies whether or not they will use their wise and creative freedom in crafting the best ways to concretely advocate for and equitably support both men and women in their workforce.