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As we near the new year, we look forward to new work habits, organization-wide resolutions, and personal goals to attain. After all, with each new year comes a fresh start. But in order to improve this year, we first need to look on our last year. Particularly, in years previous to 2019, women and men were nearly matched in employment rates. It was only at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that women’s employment began to decrease disproportionately to men’s. And while the virus itself has been at the fore of discussions on workplace improvements, 2021 faced the secondary crisis of gender inequality. In addition to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be working toward gender equality in 2022, as well.

Gender Inequality before COVID-19

While the latter half of this year has shown an improvement in many industries for employment rates, unemployment continues to be higher in women in Canada and the United States. A study from the Government of Canada notes that before COVID-19, women made up about 47.3% of the workplace. Overall, employment was slowly improving for women. A study from the Pew Research Center showed that in 2020, women earned on average 84% of what men earned. Even a report from the U.S. government showed that women took up 50.04% of positions in the States.

However, of course, women still faced discrimination in being hired both before and after having children, and even faced termination after asking for maternity leave. In addition to being discriminated against as an employee, women further face discrimination during the hiring process. Because traditional interview processes rely on hand-picking candidates, as opposed to automated practices that sort candidates blindly, women still tend to be hired far less frequently than their male counterparts, even with higher qualifications.

Of course, employers and recruiters should always have the best of intentions conscious when making hiring decisions. However, the reality is, gender can and often does largely affect the ways a candidate is considered even unconsciously.

The Costs of COVID-19 on Caregivers

The workplace was far from being perfect in its equal treatment in years previous to COVID-19. But the COVID-19 pandemic did not bring about, but only drew attention to the already existing problems within the workplace. Namely, women’s rights to maternity leave and needs as a caregiver in the household. Of course, not only women are the main caregivers in households, but studies have shown that they do make up the large percentage of them.

When parents began working from home, particularly when schools closed to prevent further spread in children, studies again showed that women were more often than not doing so over their male counterparts. Of course, caregiving continues to extend to the elderly, the sick, and children for people of all genders. But studies show that women will continue to face more of the negative effects in the following years as a result.

“while early reports suggest that men are more likely to succumb to COVID-19, the social and economic toll will be paid, disproportionately, by the world’s girls and women” (Morse and Anderson, 2021).

In addition to women facing the brunt of caregiving at home due to COVID-19, they continue to do so in the healthcare sector, as well. Particularly with women making up 92% of nurses in Canada (as of 2017), they are the ones who continue to face burn out more than their male counterparts.

How to Combat Workplace Gender Inequality

1. Paid maternity leave

This one should be self-explanatory. If your employee wants to have children, that does not inherently mean they want less of a career. Many parents actually become more dedicated to their work after being a parent out of obligation to support their family. As well, some use the skills gained in being a parent in their work, be it time management skills or even increased patience. Regardless, your employee’s desire for children should not be means for discrimination.

2. Consider work from home opportunities

While not everyone will want to, let alone be able to, depending on their job function, if your workers are able and happy to, let them work from home. Even a few days a week where they can work from home can decrease their childcare costs significantly. A happy worker means better work.

3. Start hiring equitably

As inclusive as your intentions may be while hiring, your unconscious biases can affect your decisions without you even noticing. Make your hiring decisions equitable by automating the filtration process. Use Packfinder to find your top ranking candidates and match your positions based on applicant potential.

Packfinder is Workwolf’s soft skills assessment tool. Created in partnership with Self Management Group, Packfinder uses psychometric profiling to match candidates to careers they are best suited for. Once your applicants have completed Packfinder, you’ll be able to filter for those who have the necessary soft skills. Use either preset or your own customizable benchmarks to find the top ranking candidates. Then, discover their potential for success.

Discover candidates fairly and faster than ever before. Start matching today by signing up for a free Workwolf account here.