Its not surprising. The sectors most affected by the lockdowns are those that disproportionately employ women. Restaurants, retail, services.
The term “shesession’ is ubiquitous and progressive governments are pledging to take a feminist approach to both get us out of this economic mess and to help us ‘build back better’.
I spend a fair bit of time thinking about what the economy of the future may look like. We’re seeing a lot of change now — the internet and automation/robotization is radically changing the types of work people will do. Addressing climate change and decarbonizing the economy will radically change how we produce goods, acquire energy and move ourselves around.
Preparing for this future will be fantastic for new, tech-oriented companies. They will grow, quite literally, as quickly as we can grow them. A friend’s daughter is graduating from engineering school next year. Job offers are already flying in. But she is an exception. There are far too few people like her. And I know, that as she starts to think of family, there will be strong forces pulling her away from the workplace.
There is a growing field of specialists who focus on equity, diversity and inclusiveness in economic policy. They look at policies and investments the government can make to get women back into work post-covid. The picture they paint is not pretty. From job ads that are subtly biased against female candidates; studies that show female job applicants are 50% less likely to get interviews for high level jobs; and a raft of policies (eg. lack of universal daycare) that incentivize women to not work … we are not doing a great job a pulling 50% of the population into leadership positions in the economy of the future. And we will pay a steep price for that.
Here is a critical fact — one of the biggest inhibitors of growth in Canada’s high growth potential sectors is the inability to attract talent. CEOs of small and medium size health and environmental technology companies were once asked what was keeping them from doubling in size. It wasn’t lack of capital. It wasn’t lack of market. It was that they could not hire enough good people to fuel their growth.
So what does one conclude from that? We need women to have every opportunity and motivaiton possible to get into the workforce. We need feminist -oriented policies to get us out of this “shesession”