Did work-from-home improve gender parity in the workplace in 2020?

Celebrated all over the world as International Women’s Day, March 8th holds special significance for the women’s rights movement. By employing more women in the workforce, organizations can proactively work towards bridging the gender gap but is that what’s happening now? Data says otherwise.

The recent World Economic Forum report reveals an alarming status quo on gender parity that calls for swift action. It is high time we #ChoosetoChallenge gender norms and biases, and provide a better world for women.

The impact of the pandemic on gender parity

To say pandemic has altered all our lives is like saying the sky is blue. It needs no mention. But let’s take a moment or two to understand how the current crisis affects the role of women in organizational culture and hiring policies, especially in the legal industry.

Regarding the current scenario, the experts and critics are split into two camps: One that believes that the pandemic will level the playing field for women, and the other that feels that the situation will hurt the cause of women and undo years of progress.

In a recent survey by U.K.’s Mental Health Awareness Week, 65 percent of women believed that the pandemic has “exaggerated existing inequalities between men and women” since women juggle childcare and home-schooling responsibilities alongside their professional work. Additionally, nearly 66% of women said that the pandemic was affecting their mental health.

Let’s talk numbers

At the start of the pandemic, there was a dip in female hiring that quickly recovered in June and July. Overall, in India, the participation of women in the workforce increased by 37%. This U-shaped trajectory holds true for the hiring of women in several developed countries, according to the labor market update.

These positive trends can be attributed to remote work and flexible hours, allowing women to manage their private and professional lives.

But it is not all roses and unicorns for women in law.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, 865,000 women—four times the number of men—dropped out of the workforce in September as families faced patchy school reopening plans.

Margarita Martinez-Baly, a solo criminal defense practitioner in Fresno, California shares, “It’s chaotic. I’m constantly feeling guilty. We, women, want to make sure these things get done. I do believe there is a difference and more of a struggle for women. You just do it because it’s what we do.”

Let’s Choose to Challenge

You don’t need a pandemic to bring gender parity. You need to #ChoosetoChallenge the doubts women often feel that fuel a sense of inadequacy, the labels, and limits that are imposed on them. It is time you #ChoosetoChallenege women to back themselves more often.

Looking ahead

While the long-term impact of the pandemic on the overall challenges for women is still unknown, there is no denying that the industry will be profoundly changed. To ensure the legal industry continues paving the path for more gender diversity, flexible work arrangements should be explored. There is also an opportunity to connect women with senior organizational leaders for remote mentoring sessions. By working consciously towards gender diversity and gender-balanced teams, we can achieve gender parity.

At Cenza, nearly 60% of our employees are women who have the flexibility of working-from-home to maintain a work-life balance. Additionally, 55% of women hold senior positions in management as we keep true to our promise of consciously working towards gender parity.

If we can do it, you can too. All you need is to challenge the world because from challenge comes change.