Winston Churchill is credited by some as saying “Never let a good crisis go to waste” in the mid-1940s.
My take on that saying is with every disaster, downturn, restructure, or anything negative that happens in your life, if you look hard enough you will find something that can be turned into a positive.
Don’t let a disaster destroy what you have taken so long to build and learn from mistakes of the past.
Covid is a perfect example of a negative time in all our lives that has also resulted in some positive outcomes we couldn’t have predicted.
There are companies out there growing, prospering, changing tact and making inroads into areas they never thought of before.
With doors closing, doors have also opened and new ways of thinking emerging.
The work environment has completely changed, and flexibility is now acceptable.
With the ability of both men and women able to work from home, the world knows it is now possible to provide flexibility to their workforce without profitability going down.
The spotlight on flexible working has shown that employees (mainly women) don’t need to choose between having a career or family commitments – they can do both successfully.
Men are also taking on more household commitments or choosing to be the stay-at-home parent. Will this continue?
During this pandemic, both women and men are telling me that they appreciate how much their partner was doing to keep the household together prior to the crisis.
Many women, who were juggling both work and family, now have partners who are witnessing the day to day organising that is involved.
In addition, those who have partners at home looking after the children can now see that their partner is not unemployed – they are working all day just like anyone else – the job of managing the children and the household is full time work with overtime.
Has this global pandemic changed the unconscious bias that mainly employees with young families have had to endure? Will flexibility continue after we are all able to return to the office?
My call out to leaders is to make sure the momentum continues and take in the lessons learnt. Don’t go back to old habits.
This is your opportunity to make change during a crisis with the rest of the world on board.
Provide flexible work options and you are likely to see an increase in the diversity and longevity of your employees within your workforce.
Whilst the Women’s Index shows an improvement for women aged 35-55 in terms of job recovery; I can’ help to wonder if this is because they may not have young children at home, or they are on higher salaries to afford childcare, or their children are old enough to be home alone.
We need to make sure all age groups have the same opportunity. If the 25–34 year olds have yet to see a return to pre-Covid employment levels, how far behind will they be in terms of skill and experience compared to their male counterparts?
Managers must engage with that group to provide the flexibility needed so they return to work and resume their careers.
If they don’t, this could cause a skill shortage in the future.
Let’s ensure we do not get complacent and start thinking that everything is on track. Old habits are hard to break and that is why experts say it takes 21 days to break a habit.
I wish we could break the lack of equality bad habit in 21 days! In the case of equality, it will take years of constant awareness and leadership to drive the change until systems and attitudes change for good.
Everyone, male, and female need to understand that equality is to the benefit of everyone, so don’t let the numbers slip. Let’s work even harder to beat the predictions.
Each person reading this report has the power to make change towards equality.
- If you are a manager, ensure your recruitment processes are fair and work toward targets.
- If you are an employee, make sure you work for companies who are committed to diversity and equality; be vocal if you see something out of place.
- If you are a parent, make sure your children understand the importance of equality all through their life and that they have the confidence to speak up immediately when they see injustice to others or if something happens to them.
Sign up to the Economic Gender Equality Pact 2030 and let’s make sure change happens sooner than later. This is everyone’s responsibility.