Published Wednesday 9th September 2020

As the world of business slowly returns to a new normal, leaders are returning focus to the many other long-term concerns that need to be addressed.

For years, corporately-responsible companies have used their platform to promote worthwhile causes, particularly issues such as climate change. For years, gender disparity in the workplace has been known as a significant issue wrongly impacting many people across all industries.

Enacting meaningful change during these times of economic uncertainty could be harder than ever before. Furthermore, there’s evidence to suggest that these issues have taken a backwards step over the last few months.

With an impending unemployment crisis that could potentially exacerbate this concern, we look at what companies can do to show their support for workplace equality.

How COVID has Impacted Workplace Equality

The last few months have transformed the way businesses operate in innumerable ways. Many of us have adjusted to new schedules and practices, juggling our corporate and social responsibilities.

As the pandemic develops, more evidence has been discovered, highlighting the disparate effects it has had on different demographics. Concerns are growing about how coronavirus could transform UK employment, and there is now a strong belief that women in work have been impacted disparately compared to male counterparts.

In June, a report by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics body, showed that gender equality in the bloc has worsened over the last five years.

Eurostat measured progress towards “Sustainable Development Goals” from 2014 to 2019. While they noted that the pay gap has narrowed and more women are in senior roles, the overall labour market has become more disparate. Furthermore, many more females are still economically inactive compared to their male counterparts.

Working from Home

The Eurostat findings concern a period up to last year, which paints a significantly negative figure once the impact of coronavirus is considered.

Lockdown measures in the UK and beyond have forced many companies to start working from home. It’s widely believed that this new working environment disproportionately impacts women in a way that could perpetuate the workplace equality issue.

The most obvious issue in this regard is childcare. With many schools either closed or on their summer holidays, working parents have had to juggle their daily office work with looking after children. Studies show the responsibility for childcare still falls predominantly on the mother, even in this work from home situation.

There are also concerns that a work from home model unravels much of the positive change enacted in office environments. Some have called the office an ‘equality leveller’, as it provides female employees with the opportunity to be seen and adequately rewarded for their hard work.

For generations, women have reported that they feel the need to work noticeably harder than their male counterparts to achieve their goals and break through the unconscious bias that is seen in many environments. Working from home reduces the opportunities for hard workers to be noticed, which could be a significant setback for workplace equality.

How Companies Can Promote Workplace Equality During COVID-19

During the last few months, companies could have been forgiven for taking their eye off long-term issues, as businesses built the foundations for their survival. However, all firms should continue to tackle workplace biases, not just for their employees’ wellbeing but also their potential to contribute to a thriving company, this year and beyond.

One of the most important things at this time is showing compassion towards the issues that matter to your workforce. Engage in dialogue with employees and show a desire to support those wishing to further a cause such as workplace equality.

Showing a passion for this issue in these testing times is the biggest affirmation you can give to employees who may be feeling more insecure about their position than ever before. This commitment to the cause will be rewarded in the long-term by building a stronger, more productive workforce.

How Expense Reduction Analysts Can Help

To ensure you give workplace equality the attention it deserves, you need a business on firm foundations. Here at Expense Reduction Analysts, we’re experts at helping companies reduce their overheads through effective, long-term supply chain management.

Our cost reduction consultants have experience across countless industrial and cost areas and can help you develop more effective procurement strategies. With fewer expenses and more money to invest, you can then commit to a long-term plan on issues such as workplace equality, safe in the knowledge that your supply chain is secure.

If you’re interested in seeing what we could do for you, why not get in contact today? Our team is on hand and ready to help.