Staci Hegarty, IpX Global Director of Equity & Inclusion

Before COVID-19, US women were already experiencing a significant gap in pay when compared with their male counterparts. On average, women earn 81.6 cents for every dollar that men earn, with median average earnings coming in at $9,766 less than men. March 31, 2020, marked the day that women earned what men earned in 2019. For women of color the numbers are more disheartening when compared with white men. Black women earn 62 cents for every dollar, Native women earn 57 cents and Latina women earn 54 cents.

Now, nearly six months into a global pandemic that forced the lucky ones to work at home and brought record-level unemployment to the rest, the inequity in women’s pay has become more obvious. Women fill more “essential” jobs than men, yet they also take on the majority of child-related jobs in the home. With daycares and schools not returning to normal operations, many women have had no choice but to leave their jobs. Even women who work from home have found that balancing work and family responsibilities has become even more challenging than before COVID-19.

As businesses begin to reopen, organizations need to take quick action to ensure that the women in their workforces are not left behind. Instead of seeing the reopening of some businesses as a chance to “get back to normal,” this is the time to acknowledge that the old way of operating was not working very well for half of employees. Not only do women need to be involved in how businesses resume operations, but they need to have the ability to raise concerns and work toward creative solutions to bring more gender equity to the workplace.

When organizations include all voices in the decision-making process, new ideas are brought forth. Innovative ways of working benefit not only the workers but also the company. With less turnover and an engaged workforce, energy and resources can be spent on the goals of the organization instead of trying to fix the problems brought on by doing things the way they have always been done.