5 Ways Companies Can Support Women’s Inclusion in Labour Markets

Written by Antoinet Van Dalen, Contributor, August 2021

The pandemic is damaging the progress towards gender equality at work. According to the World Economic Forum’s (2021) Global Gender Gap Report, 5% of employed women lost their job compared to 3.9% of men, and less women were hired into executive or senior roles in 2020 as Broom (2021) clarifies.

Through my experience as the Founder of a solutions-based platform for gender balance at work, I got to know of initiatives that I think can help companies close the gap caused by the pandemic faster and potentially accelerate gender equality in workplaces as a result.

What can companies do to support women at work? And how can companies take gender equality to the next level beyond the pandemic?

Here are 5 ways companies can let women thrive in the workplace and support their inclusion in labour markets:


1. Train for employment in high-growth sectors

Many jobs in industries where women are over-represented like hospitality, food services, and retail vanished as a result of lock-down measures. Companies in growing sectors like the technology industry could take this opportunity to gender diversify their workforce by reinvesting their profits in dedicated certification programs for women. Women can be placed directly into roles at companies and be mentored the first months after the completion of the program. This could be an opportunity for women to start a career in a high growth sector.


2. Offer reintroduction programs

Women who temporarily left the workforce during the pandemic (or women who were on maternity leave for instance) can be offered back to work programs by companies. The goal of these programs should be to bring people up to speed again to understand business needs, update knowledge on the company’s products or services and make the reintroduction of employees easier. It is also a way for companies to attract new talent. It’s interesting to note that Path Forward (2021) has worked with over 90 companies and has reported that over 80% of the participants involved in one of their returnship initiatives have been hired by the companies where they completed them, proving that they are successful.


3. Eliminate bias against the pandemic unemployment gap

Female candidates who have an unemployment gap on their resumes due to the pandemic will face bias when applying for jobs, as they may be viewed as unambitious or lacking skills, resulting in a 45% lower chance of landing an interview, according to Yang (2021).

How can employers remove bias against this gap? Bias can be removed if all actors of the hiring process play their part:

  • Companies should encourage women to be open about the pandemic resume gap.
  • Companies in return should communicate clearly and openly that they are committed to bringing women back and won’t discriminate those who had to take time away.
  • Managers in companies have to be informed and trained by organizations to remove their biases and focus on experience and skill set of candidates only.
  • Talent Acquisition professionals needs to make sure that talent pools of candidates are gender diverse in teams where women had to take time away. This is now resulting in an unbalanced workforce and it needs to change.

4. Create an inclusive company culture

The right company culture is necessary for women to succeed, especially in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few examples of arrangements that companies might want to consider:

Work-life balance

A work culture that actively encourages a work-life balance is essential. Booking meetings during business hours, preventing unnecessary work on the weekends, and staffing teams properly are a few examples of measures that are beneficial when it comes to supporting women at work. Let’s also not forget the importance of creating easy access to childcare, which should be of uttermost importance to both companies and governments nowadays.

Mental health benefits

Companies could cultivate and create safe spaces for women, for example by supporting employee resource groups and communication channels where women can talk about their experiences. Also, offering mental-health services could be part of a company’s employee benefits package, as explained by Benner (2021).

Flexible and inclusive parental leave

Companies should consider the adoption of flexible parental-leave policies by expanding paid leave for all sorts of parents. This includes men, parents who identify as LGBT, adoptive parents, and beyond. On one hand it allows women to enjoy a better work life balance, and on the other it helps all sorts of parents be better included into parenting. It would also allow both parents to continue their careers at the same time. According to RTL Nieuws (2021), a Dutch insurance company called Nationale Nederlanden is setting a great example for already offering flexible parental leave to all sort of parents.


5. Empower your leaders from the top down

All possible initiatives to let women succeed need the direct support of top management. Executives have to understand that improving working conditions for women inside their companies can lead to improved employee retention, better business resilience, and an enhanced continuity. As a result, this could lead to better overall business outcomes. They are the ones who can take the lead from the top down and make it work. A way to make it happen is by organizing regular Diversity & Inclusion trainings for executives and managers of the organization.


To conclude

We should all embrace the opportunity to take women at work to the next level and shape the future of female leadership. All initiatives to accelerate women at work that were “nice to have” have become a necessity for companies to survive and thrive during this pandemic. If applied correctly, it will eventually help gender equality evolve further and faster. Let’s take the time to make it work!


Written by Antoinet Van Dalen


About the Author
About the Author

Antoinet Van Dalen is a gender-focused workplace D&I activist, the Founder of Fireside, and a Customer Success Manager at Talentsoft.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of The Humans of HR.


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The Humans of HR is a Digital Social Enterprise that is on a mission to humanize the world of work. We aspire to be recognized as a high quality International HR & Business media outlet for a diverse body of professionals from all over the world. Our Magazine currently reaches readers in over 80 counties.

We believe everyone is entitled to have access to professional content that is backed up by relevant sources, as well as the work of the global scientific community, no matter where they come from. That is the reason why we started writing, and also why we will continue to do so. In order to keep growing and keep our content open to our global audience, we would like for you to consider supporting our work.

Your contribution is highly appreciated.

The Humans of HR is a Digital Social Enterprise that is on a mission to humanize the world of work. We aspire to be recognized as a high quality International HR & Business media outlet for a diverse body of professionals from all over the world. Our Magazine currently reaches readers in over 80 counties.

We believe everyone is entitled to have access to professional content that is backed up by relevant sources, as well as the work of the global scientific community, no matter where they come from. That is the reason why we started writing, and also why we will continue to do so. In order to keep growing and keep our content open to our global audience, we would like for you to consider supporting our work.

Your contribution is highly appreciated.

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References



Benner, W. (2021, March 18). Why we must design a stronger post-pandemic workplace for women. Fast Company. https://www.fastcompany.com/90616000/why-we-must-design-a-stronger-post-pandemic-workplace-for-women

Broom, D. (2021). 4 ‘big bets’ to close the post-pandemic gender gap. World Economic Forum; World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/covid-gender-gap-inequality/

Path Forward. (2021). About Us. https://www.pathforward.org/about-path-forward/

RTL Nieuws. (2021, August 3). NN trekt geboorteverlof voor alle soorten partners gelijk: “Heel waardevol.” RTL Nieuws. https://www.rtlnieuws.nl/economie/artikel/5246088/nn-verlof-baby-geboorteverlof-ouderschapsverlof-bevallingsverlof

World Economic Forum. (2021). Global gender gap report 2021. World Economic Forum; World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/reports/ab6795a1-960c-42b2-b3d5-587eccda6023/

Yang, P. (2021). How Resume Employment Gaps Affect Interview Chances of Job Applicants. ResumeGo. https://www.resumego.net/research/resume-employment-gaps/

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