Double Whammy for Women

Since the start of the pandemic, a disproportionate number of women have either lost or left their jobs. Mercer President and Chief Executive Officer Martine Ferland discusses this double whammy on women’s workforce participation. Women have been very engaged in many of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic, like hospitality, retail, and travel. The pandemic has accelerated ongoing trends toward automation and not all of the jobs lost may come back – which means that upskilling and reskilling will be more important than ever. 

At the same time, the extraordinary pressures of the pandemic have been overwhelming for some women who have had to take on more responsibilities at home as normal support systems – like schools and daycare – have been disrupted. Working from home may offer advantages under certain circumstances, but a woman who is taking on an additional 20 hours of work to support others at home while her own laptop is “always sitting on the kitchen countertop,” as Martine says, may feel she has to work 24/7. Providing additional support and flexibility now may make the difference in keeping a valued employee. And, as we slowly return to a working environment in which remote working becomes more prominent, we will need to draw on lessons learned. Martine points out that we need to avoid the trap in which the remote worker is forgotten because she or he is not seen. This will take a shift in mind-set to an output-driven performance model.

And what advice does Martine have for the woman who comes to her now saying she can’t handle all of this? “I say breathe. There are ways we can help you.”

You can watch the full interview on Yahoo Finance.

Beth Umland
by Beth Umland

Director of Research, Health, Mercer

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