Forging new pathways for women’s careers

Women, allies and organisations must come together to drive meaningful change for women in the workplace, Skillsoft has advocated in a report.
By: | May 12, 2021

While the pandemic has undoubtedly impacted the global workforce, women have been more profoundly affected by the financial and social fallout of the pandemic, said Skillsoft in a report titled Forging new pathways for women’s careers.

Co-written by Elisa Vincent, Vice-President, Global Talent Enablement, Skillsoft; Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, Chief Marketing Officer, Skillsoft; Rashim Mogha, Customer Market Leader, Leadership & Business, Skillsoft; and Rosie Cairnes, Vice-President, Regional Sales, APAC, the report claimed that “women have been disproportionally disenfranchised and have lost decades of ground in terms of leadership and financial security.”

In the Asia-Pacific region, for example, Asian women are on average, 70% less likely than men to be in the workforce. The number of female-owned and run businesses is less than half the number for men, and for every four men in a leadership position, there is only one female representation.

Women carry out most of the unpaid labour, providing care to children, the elderly, and sick or disabled family members, as well as other household work, amounting to about three hours per day. This creates a scenario where women in the Asia-Pacific region are more likely to experience poverty and deprivation.

This inequity, argued Skillsoft, does not only hurt women. Instead, it is a “great disadvantage” to each country’s overall financial health. According to McKinsey, the countries of Asia-Pacific could add US$4.5 trillion to their collective annual GDP by 2025, a 12 percent increase over the business-as-usual trajectory, simply by advancing women’s equality.

The pandemic, however, has thrown a spanner in the works, where such efforts are concerned. In Japan, for example, 870,000 jobs were lost in just the first seven months of the pandemic. These were mainly in retail and hospitality, which account for a greater percentage of female employees than other industries.

Rosie Cairnes, Vice-President, Regional Sales, APAC, said, “These are disappointing numbers from a personal standpoint, but they’re also disappointing from a business and economic one.”

However, COVID-19 may have given Asian businesses the shake-up they need to really address gender equality and workplace diversity.

Recent research from Skillsoft examined employee expectations in a post-COVID workplace and found the top two issues that the Asia-Pacific workforce wants their employers to support are offering flexible work for parents of both genders (38%) and hiring and supporting more older workers (33%).

Other top-line issues include ensuring equal gender representation on the leadership team, supporting equal maternity and paternity leave, and monitoring, reporting and working to close the gender pay gap (25%).

What then, can be done to overcome the effects of the “pink pandemic”? For starters, women, allies and organisations must come together to recognise the current challenge and drive meaningful change.

The power, explained Skillsoft, rests in our alignment with each other in:

  • Providing the tools for women to grow competencies for the most in-demand opportunities.
  • Building the power skills of resilience, agility and empathy.
  • Acquiring the insight and emotional intelligence to actively listen, and become an effective change agent, internally and externally.
  • Investing resources in acquiring, developing and advancing women in the workplace.

With women thus empowered, they must then step up to advocate for themselves and forge new career pathways, as Cairnes concluded, “You have to have the courage of your convictions, to use your voice for change. Your voice is powerful. Don’t compromise and do have the courage to act.”

Click here to read the full report