The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce recently had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable on Women’s Economic Empowerment. The virtual roundtable of about 40 was hosted by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and featured two provincial ministers – MPPs Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Women and Children’s Issues and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour along with Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance Stan Cho.
As the indispensable partner of business, the OCC was pleased to bring together government & members of the business community to provide recommendations & examples of public-private partnerships to support women’s economic empowerment during COVID-19 & for economic recovery. The roundtable consultation was to gather information to feed up to the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee.
The OCC noted the following – that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on women, resulting in what some economists are calling a “she-cession”, as more women have lost their jobs and fewer women than men are re-gaining employment In a recent episode of The Current on CBC, it was noted by the panel of economists that even though more women were unemployed during COVID; more men are receiving CERB. In Ontario 1.6 million men are receiving the benefit compared to 1.5 million women.
A panellist, when asked about the biggest challenges not being talked about, identified childcare as an area that needs immediate attention if there is going to be a “she-covery”, and that a federal plan is needed. Another panellist brought forward the fact that many of the small businesses most severely impacted are
connected to women.
Many of the issues facing women before the pandemic have become more prevalent in a COVID world.
A study by the McKinsey Institute called “Women in Workplace 2019” assesses data collected by the group over the past five years and while it’s revealed there have been improvements in the presence of women in workplace from entry-level to managers to C-suite executives, that movement has been minimal.
The authors identify a concept called the “broken rung” which is that in reality, the biggest obstacle that women face is much earlier in the pipeline, at the first step up to manager. This broken rung results in more women getting stuck at the entry level, and fewer women becoming managers. Not surprisingly, men end up holding 62 percent of manager-level positions, while women hold just 38 percent. This early inequality
has a long-term impact on the talent pipeline. Since men significantly outnumber women at the manager level, there are significantly fewer women to hire or promote to senior managers. The number of women decreases at every subsequent level. So even as hiring and promotion rates improve for women at senior levels, women as a whole can never catch up. There are simply too few women to advance. Fixing this “broken rung” is the key to achieving parity.
The report goes on to offer: Five steps companies can take to fix their broken rung—and ultimately their pipeline:
Set a goal for getting more women into first-level management
About a third of companies set targets for the representation of women at first-level management, compared to 41 percent for senior levels of management. Companies should use targets more aggressively.
Require diverse slates for hiring and promotions
Companies are more likely to require diverse candidate slates for promotions at senior levels than at the manager level. When two or more women are included on a slate, the likelihood that a woman will get the position rises dramatically.
Put evaluators through unconscious bias training
Unconscious bias can play a large role in determining who is hired, promoted, or left behind.
Establish clear evaluation criteria
Companies need to make sure they have the right processes in place to prevent bias from creeping into hiring and reviews. This means establishing clear evaluation criteria before the review process begins. Evaluation tools should also be easy to use and designed to gather objective, measurable input. For
example, a rating scale is generally more effective than an open-ended assessment.
Put more women in line for the step up to manager
The building blocks to make this happen are not new—leadership training, sponsorship, high-profile assignments—but many companies need to provide them with a renewed sense of urgency.
Peterborough-Kawartha MP Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for the Status of Women presented what the government is planning to do to address the needs of women in the workforce to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women (FEWO) this past Wednesday.