How to Keep Women on the Job Through COVID-19 and Beyond

If you have paid attention to the news, you have probably heard that a record number of women —between 2 and 3 million— have left the workforce since the pandemic began due, in many instances, to childcare and other caregiving duties. This brief report says that the economic fallout of the pandemic has disproportionately affected women. Thousands of women lost jobs during this past year. Women who remain in the workforce with caregiving responsibilities are stretched thin and look for support and flexibility from their employers. Are employers obligated to help their employees who are also caregivers? Even if there is no legal obligation, should employers still help these employees? 

Because the library profession is female-dominated, library employers should be particularly concerned and willing to provide much-needed support for their staff who are caregivers. Employers should work with employees to develop creative solutions that benefit both workers and employers. Employers may need to change some of their policies to allow flexibility and promote an environment that models caregiving. This article gives some commonly-cited reasons women have left the workplace—and offers ways Human Resources professionals can help prevent these circumstances from occurring. The author believes employers can help keep talented women on staff by showing sensitivity and demonstrating that you understand caregivers’ unique circumstances.

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