In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re bringing you a special edition of the DEI Digest dedicated to the experiences of women at work. Since 2013, McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org have published an annual Women in the Workplace study — one of the DoorDash Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team’s favorite, most comprehensive, data-driven resources — highlighting the very real ways women experience and navigate the workplace. A recent study from Sept. ’21 focuses on how Covid-19 affected women at work in the height of the pandemic, including the specific challenges women of color, working mothers, women in senior leadership, and women with disabilities faced. Although many have started to go back into a physical office location or have adjusted to a new working routine altogether, the study highlights pre-existing trends that were exacerbated by the pandemic. It’s a sobering reminder of the work we must continue to do to create a truly equitable and inclusive workplace for all.

MAIN TAKEAWAYS

  • Women are having a worse time than men and among their biggest concerns are layoffs/furloughs, burnout, childcare/homeschooling, and mental health.
  • Because the boundaries between work and home are much more blurry, women feel the pressure of being “always on,” causing exhaustion and burnout.
  • Before Covid, the representation of women in corporate America was slowly trending in the right direction. Due to challenges caused by Covid, this is the first time in six years we’re seeing signs of women leaving the workforce at higher rates than men.
  • 1 in 4 women are contemplating downshifting their careers and leaving the workforce, specifically working mothers who haven’t been able to consistently depend on childcare or school.
  • Mothers are 2.1x more likely than fathers to worry about their performance being judged due to caregiving.
  • Senior-level women are significantly more likely than men at the same level to feel under pressure to work more and as a result are 1.5x more likely than senior-level men to think about downshifting their role or leaving the workforce because of Covid-19.
  • Black women already face more barriers to advancement than most other employees and are now dealing with the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on the Black community, as well as the emotional toll of racial violence.
  • Black women are almost twice as likely as women overall to say that they can’t bring their whole selves to work and more than 1.5x as likely to say they don’t have strong allies.
  • Many women with disabilities are less likely to report getting the flexibility they need to work during the pandemic and are uncomfortable sharing the challenges they’re facing with their managers, leading to further isolation.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • Make work sustainable – Burnout is real. Evaluate your current productivity and performance expectations for your team. Are they the same as pre-Covid? If so, is this still realistic? Encourage time off, but also check-in with folks on their bandwidth and consider extending deadlines or shifting priorities. Be mindful of people’s time (e.g. scheduling less meetings or allowing them time away from their desk to have lunch) and set clear boundaries (see #2 below). 
  • Reset norms around flexibility – With lines blurred between work and home, it’s important you help your team set clear boundaries. For example, establish set hours for meetings and guidelines around responding to emails outside of typical business hours. It’s also important you not only communicate support but model the behavior. In addition, remember that some folks may be more vocal than others, so be sure to communicate norms and expectations to the entire team so everyone is aligned on upholding those boundaries.
  • Communication is key – We’ve been working from home for a while now, but it’s still critical that you check-in with your team and make yourself available to anyone who wants to talk. Make time for humanistic connections (e.g. taking 5 minutes before each meeting to ask people how they’re doing) and spend the extra time getting to know the whole person. Reiterate what support and resources are available and encourage the team to take advantage of them. 

Support mothers, women of color, and women with disabilities – Educate yourself on the distinct challenges underrepresented and marginalized women face (check out our additional resources). Make sure women get the credit they deserve and look for opportunities to acknowledge their contributions. Continue to think about who you are inviting to meetings, delegating projects and tasks to, and recognizing and promoting. 

About the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Digest:

Increasing representation of underrepresented talent and creating a space for all employees to thrive continues to be an industry challenge. As we strive to build more diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities within our company, industry, and cities, we are committed to sharing best practices, learnings, and insights through this ongoing series created by our DEI team.