In the last few decades, the global business world has witnessed a large shift in the leadership status of women and progress towards gender parity in the workforce. The proportion of women in senior management roles reached an all-time high of 29% in 2019, and currently, 87% of global mid-market companies have at least one woman in a senior management role. The rate of female entrepreneurship is progressing: the growing rate of women-owned businesses is at 5% annually, 21 female-founded unicorns were made in 2020, and the percent of newly funded startups with female founders has doubled since 2009.
While these numbers are impressive and speak volumes to the grit, determination and courage illustrated by women globally, a long battle is ahead to close the remaining gender gap (31.4% average globally).
According to McKinsey, women are 1.8 times more vulnerable to lose their jobs to men during the COVID-19 crisis, accounting for 54 percent of overall job losses from this crisis. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, women disproportionately assume the bulk of unpaid domestic labour. As nurseries and schools have been forced to close, women have often had to balance their jobs with other family duties such as child care and home-schooling. Due to the challenges brought on by this shift, as well as the added financial and emotional stress of the pandemic, more than 25% of women have reported considering downshifting their careers or exiting the workforce altogether.
Secondly, women-dominated sectors such as retail, accommodation and food services have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, resulting in higher rates of female unemployment and job loss. It is important to note that the hardships caused by the crisis and related economic downfall are not shared by all women equally. In the US, for example, the unemployment rate for Black women is 25% higher than the national average of all Americans in the same age group, and for Latinx women the rate is nearly 50 percent higher.
Without intervention to address the economic and social impacts of the pandemic on women, we risk setting back the clocks on the decades-worth of progress of women in the workforce. In order to mitigate these regressive effects, it is essential that companies provide equitable support to women - such as free nursery, diverse hiring practices, and flexible work schedules - otherwise they risk losing women in leadership, and holding back the potential of future women leadership.
In this moment, we must work to amplify the status of women in leadership, and promote stories of women empowerment wherever we can. For this reason, Boma India has launched Boma WOMEN, a fireside chat series with globally renowned women leaders, entrepreneurs, artists and scientists. Join Boma India from January 28th to March 11 International Women’s Day, to hear inspirational stories of how this international panel of women built businesses, organizations or their own brand; combined passion with purpose; created global networks; and impacted the world at large through their innovative thinking and action.
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