Experts predict that the Covid-19 crisis has meant a five-year advance in many industries, especially in terms of digitization. But this evolution has not been uniform across the board. In addition to the health catastrophe, the pandemic has meant a step backwards in some social rights, as is the case with gender equality.
This is reflected in the report How Covid Affects Women’s Careers and Female Leadership in Europe, prepared by the consultancy BCG, which reflects that the pandemic has resulted in an overload of work, especially for women who are mothers. They ensure that they dedicate twice as much unpaid work, an average of 27 hours a week more than before the pandemic, to carry out housework or tasks related to the education of their children. This also has an impact on the professional field: 30% of European mothers say that their ability to perform at work has decreased with the pandemic, a percentage that in the case of Spain reaches 37%. Thus, 44% claim to be at a disadvantage compared to the rest of their peers without children.
But Covid-19 has not only impacted mothers. Teleworking, which has been shown as a measure that could contribute to conciliation and, therefore, to equality, also has many shadows. 38% of women do not have a private space in which to work, 28% say they are constantly interrupted, and 40% do not feel secure about their employment. Percentages that are 10 points lower in the case of their male colleagues.
For the president of BCG for Western Europe, South America and Africa, Hubertus Meinecke, the fact that the discontent of women is higher is due to three main reasons: they have felt more isolated during confinement, they are more burned by the work and personal overexertion that they have had to reconcile and, finally, due to a question of trust and visibility, if they already had more problems than their colleagues to have their voice heard in person, virtual meetings have made this task even more complicated. “I hope it ends up being less, but my impression is that With the pandemic, we have lost 20 years in the race to close the gender gap”, Assures the BCG spokesperson.
Teleworking by itself does not imply a better conciliation, even less in a context like the current one, and that is how working people have felt it. More than half believe that the company has not offered specific measures to reconcile the domestic responsibilities derived from the new situation and a similar proportion do not consider that their superiors have been aware of this. It is striking that Spain is one of the few European countries in which women have noticed greater support than men, ahead of more advanced economies, such as Germany, in which a more marked gender gap has been revealed.
For the deputy director general of Fundación Seres, Lucila García, companies must make a great effort not to leave anyone behind at a time like this. “Because of this burnout [síndrome del quemado] that women are suffering to a greater extent, we are seeing that a quarter are considering abandoning their employment. We can go back to numbers from 10 years ago, that is a drama that we cannot afford, neither as a society nor as a company ”, he insists. The sociologist and business growth expert Alejandra Nuño is also blunt, who recalls that talent is essential to face recovery: “in times of crisis we cannot allow ourselves to corner anyone”. An issue that takes on special relevance now that more focus has been placed on the emotional health of the workforce: “We cannot talk about corporate well-being when half of your internal population is not on equal footing,” he recalls.