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WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE 2020: A crisis is looming in corporate America


The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted corporate America in ways we’ve never seen before. In fact, no one is experiencing business as usual.

But women — especially mothers, senior-level women and Black women — have faced distinct challenges, according to the newest Women in the Workplace report by Lean In and McKinsey & Co. In fact, 1 in 4 women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce because of COVID-19.

And if there’s one thing this year’s report makes clear, it’s that corporate America is at a critical crossroads.

“If we had a panic button, we’d be hitting it,” LeanIn.org co-founders Sheryl Sandberg and Rachel Thomas shared in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

The largest study on the state of women in corporate America, this year’s Women in the Workplace report was based on data from 317 companies employing more than 12 million people.

In addition to taking a detailed look at the dynamics driving mothers, senior-level and Black women to consider downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce, the report also provides an overview of what companies are doing to support employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, where they’ve stepped up, and where they can do more.

The main conclusion of this year’s report is clear: the COVID-19 pandemic could erase all gains made by women.

As many as 2 million women are considering taking a leave of absence or leaving the workforce altogether. This is the first time there have been signs of women leaving the workforce at higher rates than men — in the previous six years of this study, women and men left their companies at similar rates.

If these women feel forced to leave the workforce, American companies will end up with far fewer women in leadership — and far fewer women on track to be future leaders.

While many companies are taking important steps to support employees during the pandemic, they’re not doing enough, the report states. Few companies have taken action to address the
root causes of issues many women face.

Read the full report.

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