In December 2019, women made up a majority, albeit slight, of the workforce. At the end of last year, 50.4% of U.S. jobs were held by women.
But, as with so many other aspects of employment, COVID-19 has had an impact. More women than men have been affected by job losses related to the business shutdown or what economists are now referring to as the current recession.
The New York Times reports that during the last recession, most of the job losses were in manufacturing, construction, and finance, male-dominated industries, and consequently more men lost their jobs.
Now vs. then
This time, though, women have shouldered more job losses.
Women accounted for 55% of all jobs lost in April. The unemployment rate in April for adult women was 15%, up from 3.1% in February. The unemployment rate for men for April was 13%.
The last recession was dubbed a “mancession” by The Atlantic in 2009, because of its impact on men; over a two-year period, from 2007 to 2009, 80% of the job losses were among men.
Now, the Times quotes C. Nicole Mason, president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research: “I think we should go ahead and call this a ‘shecession.’”
The industries hardest hit by the business shutdown include leisure and hospitality, which employ more women than men.
Work and home
However, it’s not only about the number of jobs lost, women vs. men. It’s the way in which COVID-19 has impacted women.
In a separate article, The New York Times summarizes the situation:
“As the pandemic upends work and home life, women have carried an outsized share of the burden, more likely to lose a job and more likely to shoulder the load of closed schools and day care. For many working mothers, the gradual reopening won’t solve their problems, but compound them — forcing them out of the labor force or into part-time jobs while increasing their responsibilities at home.”
Policy experts and researchers are finding that an entire generation of women could experience significant setbacks in their careers and loss of earnings.
Impact on employers
For employers, the loss of talent could be significant. Already, businesses have found it more difficult to recall furloughed employees than anticipated.
For some employees, staying home has been a financial decision; they’re making more collecting unemployment benefits. Meanwhile, other employees are struggling with child-care issues.
Regardless, employers face immediate staffing concerns, and potentially longer-term talent issues, especially with regard to women.
So, how do employers address the challenges women with young children are encountering?
Here are a few possible solutions:
- Offer a work-from-home option.
- Embrace flexible scheduling.
- Implement split shifts.
- Explore job sharing.
While onsite child care is probably not an option, why not consider a child-care subsidy? Such a benefit provides financial support, and sends a positive message.
Needless to say, these and any other work options and benefits must be clearly articulated, when speaking with furloughed employees and when recruiting candidates for open positions.
Sharing this information in job postings, at your careers site, and in other recruitment marketing material will let candidates know women are welcome at your organization, and more importantly, that they are supported.
For additional insight into how to adjust your recruitment strategy to succeed in the current environment, check out the recording of Appcast’s recent webinar, Agile Recruiting.