The global pandemic has taken a huge toll on women and an even greater toll on black women. Here’s what happened and why workplace inclusion will be the next #MeToo movement.
It’s no longer a secret that women have faced barriers in the workplace as a result of COVID-19, almost 3 million women retired from work, reversing the previous trend of more women in the labor market and illustrating obstacles that women face to a greater extent than men, such as childcare, care for the elderly and prejudice in the workplace.
SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (Tech Republic Premium)
The situation has been worse for black women, who have faced several challenges in the tech industry. Unemployment fell in December 2021 for white people (3.2%), Asian-American people (3.8%) and Latino or Hispanic people (4.9%). However, unemployment rose from 6.5% in November to 7.1% in December for black people. Black women in particular have a hard time: participation in the workforce by only 60.3%†
black women being forced out of the workforce is also a great loss, because it means a lack of diversity of ideas. Janine Yancey, the founder and CEO of Emtrain, a workplace culture technology platform that helps businesses achieve inclusion, is a former employment attorney who has focused much of her research on prejudice, harassment and discrimination in the workplace, all factors that have led to increased dropout rates. for black women at work, as well as a tougher fight to bring these workers back.
SEE: The COVID-19 gender gap: what employers can do to keep women on board (TechRepublic)
According to Yancey, who recently co-authored the research paper, “A data-driven approach to win the war for talent during the great layoffBlack women have experienced the greatest degree of bias. For example, they are more likely to ‘prove it again’, being constantly asked to demonstrate their worth and knowledge, when others are not. They also experience ‘bias on’ the tightrope”, which is the thin line between sympathy and competence.
These patterns, once detected, can be countered “with systematic decision-making and strong social connections,” Yancey said. However, the global pandemic has weakened these systems.
“The virtual interactions and social distancing necessitated by COVID have made it more difficult to develop strong social connections,” she said, “and without those strong social connections as a control, bias is more likely to influence women’s workplace experiences. and people of color, and black women most acutely.”
According to her, digital communication was also a major challenge during COVID. “We still have undeveloped skills in digital communications,” she said, “yet since COVID, we have mainly relied on digital communications and have not yet adopted best practices for virtual and digital communications.”
When there are communication difficulties in the workplace, black women are disproportionately affected, Yancey said — and as a result, “they are reluctant to return to a personal experience where they often feel pressured to conform to white social norms, in terms of of appearance and communication, where they consistently experience micro-aggressions,” she said.
In recent years, women in the tech world like Ellen Pao and Susan Fowler have talked about abuse and inequality, part of the growing #MeToo movement, and Yancey believes a similar reckoning should apply to race. “Younger populations are unwilling to conform to a social norm that is not authentic or that they cannot embrace,” she said.
“We are quickly reaching a tipping point in the workforce where everyone wants different demographics to be represented, included and a culture where everyone feels they belong,” she said.