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Put women back to work: How the pandemic has affected women in the workplace

Posted by Goodwill Staff on March 25, 2021

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It is disheartening to talk about Women’s History Month and at the same time witness hard-fought workplace gains disappearing. It is well-documented that during the pandemic, women have experienced disproportionate job loss. More than 2.3 million women have left the workforce in the past year, compared to 1.8 million men, dropping the women’s labor force participation rate to 57 percent — the lowest it’s been since 1988.

The team at Goodwill TalentBridge, a full-service staffing and recruiting firm, assisted many candidates experiencing significant challenges during the pandemic as unforeseen shutdowns continued and employees juggled both their work and home lives. Goodwill TalentBridge works with candidates and employers in the healthcare sector, which historically employs a large number of women. As businesses reopened, a lot of the firm’s women employees were considered front line workers. Although most were happy to be able to return to work, they were forced to make decisions about doing so while continuing to care for their children who were home from daycare or in a virtual school setting.

The scale of this crisis for women is such that many are calling it a “she-session,” drawing attention to the fact that the pandemic-related recession is largely affecting women. In a recently published commentary, Vice President Kamala Harris calls the exodus of women in the workforce a “national emergency.”

“During the past year, Goodwill TalentBridge has made it a top priority to support female workers and plans to continue to do so moving forward,” said Heather Sechler, market manager for Goodwill TalentBridge. “As businesses reopened and our clients asked our employees to return to in-person work, we surveyed our staff and inquired about the shifts and hours that would work best for their family. Our team worked diligently to accommodate each employee’s request and support them in their return to work.”

She shared, “In one instance, our team was able to find a customized work solution for a family, with both parents working and their children at home in a virtual learning environment. After learning about their needs, knowing it was necessary for both parents to work and provide for their family, Goodwill TalentBridge was able to hire them, offering one first shift and one second shift so there was always someone at home.”

Goodwill TalentBridge is seeing fewer women searching for jobs and, more starkly, a smaller percentage of women being hired as compared to men. The firm reports that many women say all of this is having a serious impact on their psychological, emotional and financial health. Goodwill understands that for someone who is unemployed or underemployed, it often takes more than job offers to re-enter the workforce. Often, women need childcare, transportation and other supports in order to find and keep a job.

Heather also shared her personal thoughts on being a working mother during the past year. “Although this past year has had challenges that no one could have foreseen, the amount of time I have spent with my children is something I would not have been able to do while working traditionally in-office during the day. Although the pandemic has forced a working mother like myself to wear many hats, I am grateful for the gift of extra time with my family.”

As we recognize Women’s History Month this year, we must focus on supporting women facing pandemic-related job loss or risk losing the hard-fought gains of generations of women.

Do you need help finding a job? Contact Goodwill TalentBridge to connect with an experienced recruiter and learn about current opportunities.

Written by Goodwill Staff

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