There have been many conversations around how the coronavirus has provided us with an opportunity for a cultural reset and will change not only the way we work, but the fundamental ways in which we live our lives. Some of these changes will inevitably be for the better, but the pandemic also creates risk for important progress that society has made. I’ve spent the past several years advocating for greater gender equality at work, and I’m concerned about not losing momentum.
We already know that the negative impacts of the pandemic will be worse for women than men, mainly due to household and childcare responsibilities falling more on women than men and women losing their jobs more frequently, but as we look to come out on the other side of this crisis, workplaces can go one of two very different ways.
The first way will be to adjust health and safety practices—which should be the bare minimum for every company—and go back to operating in relatively the same manner as before the coronavirus outbreak. Perhaps employees will now be allowed to work remotely, but aside from a few minor changes, things will look pretty similar to the way they once were. Unfortunately, because of the negative impact this pandemic will have on women’s careers, most companies’ new realities will include fewer women.