Feb 25 2021 • 4 min read • Gender Equality
Let’s not waste a good crisis
Between February and April 2020, South Africa lost 3 million jobs, and 67% of these jobs were lost by women, according to a survey conducted by the National Income Dynamics (NIDS). Without a doubt, every major economic downturn in history has impacted both men and women negatively. The Covid wreckage, however, has more adversely impacted women, especially women of colour, and officially set the wheels of a great She-cession in motion, as many countries report the pandemic’s toll on unemployment as being heavier on women.
It goes without saying that the gender inequality gap is guaranteed to widen, and the efforts of the last two decades will be cancelled out. The McKinsey Women in the Workplace 2020 Report, warned that more than one in four women were contemplating downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce completely, causing a serious leakage in the pipeline of women in leadership, both current and future.
We are experiencing a social and economic crisis. The United States unemployment rate for women has climbed to double digits, the second time on record since 1948. As Winston Churchill said, “Never waste a good crisis”, and this is true now more than ever, especially for women who seek to contribute to solving the myriad of challenges that we face.
“Gender equality is not only a social issue, but also a massive economic opportunity”
-Katica Roy, Founder of Pipeline
To come out of this She-cession, women must redefine their roles and not be recipients of responses but rather the drivers of solutions to create a different reality. This calls on all women across the different sectors, levels and roles to define bold and courageous goals for themselves and stretch the boundary of their contribution to others. Yes, getting that promotion is important, but we encourage you to think beyond linear progression and think impact, think purpose and use your unique strengths and resources to contribute to building a more equitable society.
We cannot afford to lose momentum
Though the current crisis threatens to cause gender parity regression, it also presents an opportunity for women to leapfrog by taking more control of their growth and to be drivers of their own fate. As the world is fighting to restore “natural order” women have an opportunity to rewrite history and forge a future in which women can grow, live and prosper.
Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble founder and CEO, is a great case study of the innovation that can be unleashed when women apply their lens to the challenges they face. Whitney left her role as the VP of Marketing at Tinder to build a safer online dating app for women. The app became popular because it addressed concerns women had about the online dating experience; not having enough information about a prospect, falling victim to catfishing and sexual harassment, on this app women make the first move. On 11 February 2021, Whitney made history and became the youngest female founder to list on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
Solving challenges for women is indeed a business opportunity. Innovating with purpose can lead to great success, and this will require reframing how we look at the problems we face as women and play a stronger role in being the solution.
Let’s get bold…
Now more than ever there is a need to rise up and drive bold goals and be courageous as we carve out our own path and solution for some of the complex challenges we face,
• Rebuild with purpose:
Think about your current environment or career, does it allow you to contribute meaningfully to the world, does it give you fulfilment and joy? Consider aligning the work you do with the impact you want to make.
• Develop adequate support:
No wo-man is an island, the isolation created by lockdown restrictions proved that we are social creatures who don’t do so well without each other. Ensure that you develop an adequate support structure to hold you accountable and keep you motivated as you pursue your goals.
• Push personal boundaries and remain resilience:
Ensure that each day you do something small to move you a step closer to achieving your goal — grow where you are planted and always push your boundaries to extend beyond yourself and remain resilient as you pursue your goals.
As we think about recovery from the She-cession, let us use this as an opportunity to build a different future — what bold goals are you driving?