‘We see a clear tension between optimism for a more equitable workplace and skepticism that business leaders will take the necessary steps to address disparities’
There are some major divides between employers and workers when it comes to issues such as inclusivity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from the non-profit group Catalyst.
While 75 per cent of employers believe that COVID-19 provides companies with an opportunity to create more inclusive workplaces for women, only 60 per cent of employees agree. Business leaders are also more likely to believe that working remotely has facilitated a more inclusive environment (56 per cent versus 28 per cent) and that their company is taking steps to enhance gender equity during this pandemic (56 per cent versus 34 per cent).
Flexible working and a focus on inclusion in hiring and promotions are the top ways people believe companies will enhance gender equity during this pandemic. Employees want to know their company is taking these steps to enhance gender equity post-COVID-19. However, only 34 per cent believe their company will take these steps, finds the survey of 1,100 U.S. adults conducted between June 1 and 5, 2020.
Also, employees (60 per cent) are more likely than business leaders (28 per cent) to fear that COVID-19 has negatively impacted workers' prospects for promotion.
"With the disruption of COVID-19, we see a clear tension between optimism for a more inclusive and equitable workplace and skepticism that companies and business leaders will actually take the necessary steps to address disparities at the organizational level," says Lorraine Hariton, president and CEO of Catalyst.
“To narrow the optimism divide between business leaders and employees, there needs to be clear communication on company goals, actions, and commitments from all levels, but especially from those in leadership positions,” says Hariton. “This communication and intentional action are essential to inclusive leadership, and are critical to advancing gender and racial equity in the workplace."
One in five women say they have recently felt ignored and overlooked by coworkers during video calls, says the report, while a similar number have witnessed more discrimination at work since the outbreak of COVID-19.
More women business leaders than men business leaders believe that for senior leaders, taking action on gender equity is more important now than it had been before the emergence of the coronavirus (80 per cent versus 66 per cent), finds the survey.
Also, more women business leaders than men business leaders trust their company to create a more inclusive work environment in the future (80 per cent versus 75 per cent), and 45 per cent of women business leaders say it's difficult for women to speak up in virtual meetings compared with 42 per cent of their counterparts.
In a study released in March, almost half of women in the U.S. and Canada said they are concerned that taking advantage of flexible work arrangements might prevent them from achieving their career goals.
Canada is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to gender equality and diversity in the workplace, according to a separate report from Mercer.
Proof of this is the large pay gap that persists between men and women in Canada, according to a survey released by ADP Canada.