Women are leaving the Workforce in Droves
Have you had enough and want to leave? Everyone else is why shouldn’t I? We can all easily validate our decisions based on broader circumstances that are happening, however is leaving the workforce now the right decision for you? Yes, trends are indicating that women are leaving the workplace, however you can stop the trend! Women play a very important role in leadership that will make a difference for the future. Consider your options now and how you might work together with other women to create a FORCE for GOOD!
Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives” – Michelle Obama
What to do before, during, and after a Career Break
Ryan Harr outlined in Time in February 2021 that “Women Are Leaving the Workforce in Droves. Here’s What You Should Do Before, during, and After a Career Break.” More than 2.3 million women have left the workforce since the start of the pandemic, according to a recent report from the National Women’s Law Center. While many women have lost their jobs on account of the pandemic and recession, others are voluntarily leaving the workforce to care for children or elderly relatives. While the pandemic has driven this change for many, the concept of a “career break” isn’t new, especially for working mothers.
Nearly 90% of career re-entry candidates are female, says Carol Fishman Cohen, the CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch. Career breaks, different from maternity or paternity leave, generally last anywhere from one to 20 years, and can be taken for a variety of reasons. “A career break could be for child care or elder care reasons, but it could also include someone recovering from a health issue, or for someone who had an expat experience, like a military spouse,” says Cohen. For many women, it’s become clear the pandemic has factored into the decision to step back. Whatever the reasoning, there are things you can do before leaving a career:
- Be Certain This Is the Right Move
- Start Documenting
- Take Stock of Your Network
During Your Career Break, it’s called a break for a reason. Take one. You’re not doing anyone any favours if you spend your career break worrying about getting right back into the workforce, says Cohen. “Women who are taking a career break right now because of the pandemic need to be gentle with themselves, and they need to think about their return to work prospects in steps,” says Cohen. “They might think that they can’t do anything right now, except to focus on why they took the career break in the first place, and that is perfectly fine and that’s what they should do.” Once you’re ready to start thinking about returning to work consider:
- Start From Scratch
- Do You Need to Upskill?
- Become a Subject Matter Expert
- Reconnect With Your Network
- Identify Opportunities and Update Your Resume
- Look Into Career Re-entry Programs
Women hold a “Precarious Place” in the workforce
In March 2021, Pavritha Mohan outlined in Fast Company that “This pandemic isn’t the first time women have left the workforce in droves.” Over the last year, countless headlines have framed the economic fallout from the pandemic as the first female recession. While overall job losses between men and women now seem relatively comparable, the pandemic has uniquely affected many working women, and especially working mothers. Industries that employ more women were hit particularly hard during the pandemic, from hospitality to food service. Women are more likely to hold low-wage jobs and in the absence of in-person schooling or affordable childcare, some working mothers stopped working to care for their children, while those juggling remote work and caregiving responsibilities reportedly cut back on their working hours by four to five times more than their male counterparts have.
But this isn’t the first instance of women being knocked out of the workforce, we look back at the precarious place women have long occupied in the labour force during the great depression and World War 2. The very challenges that women faced during these times —a lack of childcare support and low-wage jobs with poor working conditions and endemic sexual harassment—still threaten their standing in the workforce more than 70 years later.
Helping Women Return to the Workplace
There were 2.2 million fewer women in the labour force in October 2020 than there were in October 2019 in the United States as outlined by Agnes Uhereczky in Forbes February 2021, “Women Are Leaving The Job Market In Droves. What Is Needed To Help Them Return?” The pandemic is taking a toll on female labour market participation. The problem is complex, as women from different ends of the spectrum were pushed out from work. Not only is the situation a great setback to gender equality achievements of the past 2 decades, but it will have serious economic, social and even mental health consequences for those impacted. Women are going through decision fatigue, feeling let down and even betrayed and had to take drastic decisions. Parents, particular mothers of children with learning difficulties, disabilities or single parents have been impacted the worst.
Why has it come to this? And what can we do to remedy the situation? There is no simple, quick fix to the problem of women leaving the labour market due to the challenges they are facing with the pandemic making work and care incompatible, or their jobs being at risk due to the specific sectors in which women hold concentrated roles. In a way we cannot even put all the blame on the pandemic, as many of the cultural and structural issues have existed before, the pandemic has however exposed the cracks and exposed the vulnerabilities of a fragile system, to which many have now fallen victim. The answer lies in a collaborative effort, different parties taking responsibility, from governments to employers, trade unions and employment services.
Greatness Guaranteed: Women Working Together
To have your best shot at lasting success, it is important that women in business don’t remain on the surface of the business world as outlined in my blog January 2017 “Building Female Eco System Leadership.” Business women need to weave themselves into an eco-system where they can offer and receive professional support. The ‘boys club’ might not seem as exclusive as it once was, but the playing field is still far from equal, and there are definite benefits for women in business to network and collaborate with one another.
There are a lot of existing networking opportunities and many of these groups can be accessed online, which is perfect for those women leaders who are already challenged by time constraints. Australia-wide groups include Women’s Network Australia, Business Chicks and She Business. Each group will have its own pros and cons, and each will suit different individuals. There is no harm in trying a few to find the best fit. What they all have in common is the platform for networking and collaboration.
By building a female eco-system we will support women now and into the future. It’s what we do well. Once the system is formed, women will be able to find support for whatever steps they want to take as leaders. When women work together, put aside competition and focus on building each other up, greatness is practically guaranteed. There is still truth in the adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Who can you meet to further your leadership goals?
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McDonald Inc. has a vision to: “Lead 1 million women to have Courage, Step in, Step up and Start up.” Through a compelling need, McDonald Inc. has the solutions and is now taking women’s leadership to the next level. This will help women across the globe become courageous in their lives, careers and through leadership especially in sectors where women are under-represented. Choose one of our programs to take your leadership to the next level:
- Courage to Step In – getting into and back into workforce – career transitions and helping women back into workforce after a career break or those who don’t have resources
- Courage to Step Up – getting a seat at the table
- Courage to Start up – entrepreneurial program
- Courage to Lead – leadership for future of work
- Leadership and Executive Coaching
- And, remember, Leadership starts from within, so grab my latest book FIRST COMES COURAGE!
Get in touch today to learn more about building leadership skills and set yourself up for success!
Stay Kind. Stay Courageous.
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