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09/24/2021

Challenger: Employers need to bring women back to workforce — here’s how

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
Marianne Wilson profile picture

The Biden Administration’s rule on vaccine mandates has created another reason for bringing women back to the workforce.

That’s according to global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which noted that some 3,667,000 fewer women over the age of 20 are currently employed than in February 2020 (according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).  That compares to 1.8 million fewer men in the same age group.

“The loss of woman talent during the pandemic has been a huge blow to U.S. employers,” said Andrew Challenger, senior VP, Challenger, Gray & Christmas.Companies need women for myriad reasons, including retention and recruitment of key talent, and achieving business goals, and that’s just for starters.”

Another reason to bring back women talent is because more women are vaccinated than their male counterparts, making planning for the vaccine mandate significantly easier for employers, according to one workplace authority. As of September 20th, 9,776,495 more women aged 12 and over had at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine than men, and there were 8,825,361 more women who were fully vaccinated than men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ultimately, companies will have to bring women back to the workforce if for no other reason than that they need the workers,” said Challenger. “While we are in a pandemic, vaccination status will certainly come into play at the recruitment level. A vaccinated worker might be more appealing to an eligible employer under the vaccine mandate plan.”

The key ways for an employer to attract women talent include career development and mentor opportunities, along with flexibility, remote work options, and competitive wages, advised Challenger.

“If someone feels valued and is on an upward career trajectory with adequate support from leadership, she is much less likely to leave an organization,” he added.

Challenger Offered The Following Tips For Employers To Help Retain And Attract Women Talent.

• Create a culture that values women talent. Potential candidates will notice if there are no women in the C-suite, on the board, or in any position of authority. In fact, the NASDAQ is pursuing rules that will delist companies that do not have at least one woman on their boards. If a woman candidate is interviewing with multiple leaders who look the same or have the same background, it may discourage that talent from pursuing the role.

• Share responsibilities. Let women talent know they are not entirely alone. Train employees to know each other’s duties and create back-up staffing plans for essential tasks. Have teams share projects so they can cover for a parent who has an emergency arise.

• Share the costs. Re-examine paid leave policies. Consider subsidizing childcare or emergency childcare. Provide referral options for daycare services.

• Pay attention to employees’ health. Managers should check in on workers to assess their emotional health and make sure they are handling the stress well. Advocate for time off, encourage breaks, and pass along referrals for counseling if needed. Clearly communicate to applicants that you value their mental health needs.

• Encourage supportive work relationships. Foster conversations that matter so that employees can connect more deeply and work together towards solutions and alternatives that will help the employees, and in turn will help them be more engaged and productive.

• Examine workloads. Reduce the total number of hours needed to work, especially if goals can still be accomplished. Reprioritize goals so only essential ones are the focus.

• Have empathy. Recognize the extraordinary circumstances occurring in our world and workplace right now. Give leeway when possible as women grapple with balancing the stress of a pandemic, familial obligations, and their professional careers.