Today marks the celebration of Women's Equality Day, observed in the United States on the 26th of August to commemorate American women being granted the constitutional right to vote. 

The 1920 adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, prohibited states and the federal government from denying citizens the right to vote on the basis of sex. 

Though there has been progress in gender equality over the decades since, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a disproportionate impact on women at work - accounting for nearly 56% of exits since the pandemic began, despite making up just 48 percent of the US workforce.

To ensure an inclusive post-pandemic recovery, it's important to consider this gap and take action, so that we don't further exacerbate inequality over the coming years.

“This is the first time we’ve seen 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, we’ll end up with far fewer women in leadership - and far fewer women on track to be future leaders.”  Women in the Workplace 2020 Report via LeanIn.org

In light of this situation, what actions can we take to help women return to the workforce?

Below are some starting points to help us rethink the way we work, including hiring practices, learning and development, and initiatives that foster inclusion, promote gender equality, and support women returning to work.

We always appreciate hearing your thoughts and ideas as well.

Supporting A Return To The Workplace

  • Offering or participating in a returnship program can help women who are interested in returning to the workplace but need help to do so. In the creative and marketing sector that we at DMCG primarily work, a great example is the Creative Equals, Creative Comeback program in London, NYC, and launching soon in Mumbai. Plus, see this article for a list of other programs in various sectors: 15 Companies Offering ‘Returnship’ or Return-to-Work Programs via InHerSight.com

  • Remove gendered-coded language from job adverts and descriptions, ensure they are inclusive. There are many ways that job ads and descriptions can put women off from applying, much comes down to wording. Use something as simple as this online Gender Decoder created by Kat Mayfield to search your text and highlight gender-coded language.

  • Cut the excessive requirements. In addition to being mindful about language, don't overload job descriptions with too many non-essential ‘nice to haves’. Forget long wish lists, define four to six key responsibilities and skills. Women tend to apply for jobs where they meet at least 80-100 per cent of the criteria, so adding all those extra requirements will affect the gender diversity of your recruitment pipeline.

  • Implement a skills-based hiring approach. Workers without a college degree may need additional training and skills-based credentials to help the transition to new career pathways - especially as we continue the shift towards technology and automation.

“In the past year, LinkedIn has seen a 21% increase in job postings advertising skills and responsibilities instead of qualifications and requirements in the U.S., and the number of positions that don’t require a degree increased by nearly 40% in 2020 compared to 2019.” You Need a Skills-Based Approach to Hiring and Developing Talent via HBR.org

  • Foster inclusion in your workplace. Once back in the workforce, employee resource groups (ERGs) can help level the playing field for women and other marginalized groups. It’s important to research the best way to roll this out successfully. Start with these 5 Top Tips On Creating Successful Employee Resource Groups by Sheree Atcheson.

These are just a few of the many steps that we can take when recruiting and onboarding new team members into organizations. Addressing any imbalance and promoting equality. We'd love to know your opinion, what strategies are you putting in place and what has been successful for your organization?

Additional Resources > Gender Equality in the Creative & Marketing Industry:

Next Creative Leaders developed by The One Club for Creativity and The 3% Movement. This program identifies, celebrates and gives a global platform to talented women and non-binary creatives who are making their mark on the world with both game changing work and a unique point of view on creative leadership.

 SheSays a global creative network for women.