Good morning, Broadsheet readers! 23andMe could go public through an SPAC, protests erupt over Poland’s abortion ban and working women are in trouble; what are companies doing to help? Have a relaxing weekend.
– Crisis management. A year ago, the working woman was driving high. Thanks to a thriving job market and their prevalence in areas such as education and health care, female workers surpassed their male counterparts in the paid U.S. workforce, according to January 2020 data.
In a new piece by Emma and The Washington City Times senior writer Maria Aspan, Michael Madowitz of the Center for American Progress, summarizes what happened next: “The whole house burned down.”
Emma and Maria’s story ticks through the data illustrating how dire the pandemic and accompanying childcare crisis have been for the female workforce in the US:
- 5.4 million women have lost their jobs since February last year – 55% of all net job losses in the US during that period
- Nearly 2.1 million women have completely disappeared from the paid labor force
- As of September, three working mothers were out of work for every father who lost a job
- And the whopper: Women accounted for all of the 140,000 net jobs the US economy lost in December.
Altogether, they write, “the pandemic has reduced working women by more than three decades – to the level of labor force participation last seen in 1988.”
It’s important to re-record those numbers, but that’s what Emma and Maria next ask: What are employers doing about this crisis?
That question yielded some encouraging answers.
IBM is expanding its “return program” that hires and trains women who have taken a break from the workforce.
Target gives all US employees unlimited, company-paid home or day care “backup care” through May.
And Verizon retrained 8,000 employees so they could work remotely when the stores were closed. This allowed some of those employees to continue to work remotely or work part-time when stores reopened, and the company expanded its paid childcare allowance to $ 15 per hour and $ 100 per day.
Christy Pambianchi, Verizon’s Chief HR Officer, acknowledged that the programs are expensive. But that also applies to sales, she says. “We think it is very important that our employees know and society knows that we are there for them.”
In order for women around the world to receive that message, we need policy changes – such as more affordable childcare – and more business initiatives to add to this list.
You can read Emma and Maria’s full story here.
Today’s Broadsheet is curated by Emma Hinchliffe.