According to the White House, there are now 3.7 million fewer women working than there were in February 2020, in large part because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has eroded more than 30 years of progress in women’s labor force participation.
At STEMconnector, we have many different initiatives to encourage people to go into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. Via our Million Women Mentors (MWM) group, we work to spark the interest of women and girls in pursuing STEM careers. The MWM goal is for women to pursue, persist and thrive in STEM.
To that end, MWM recently took a look at women in the insurance industry. Many told us they felt they needed a more supportive working environment that acknowledges — and respects — the unique circumstances of working women.
Here are ideas that came up at our latest webinar from Women in Insurance, about re-entry to work life post pandemic.
Of course, these ideas can also help employers ease all kinds of employees back to working in an office.
1. Employers need to know that everyone (including women) has dealt with a lot of mental fear, and even post-traumatic stress disorder, from the events of the last year.
Moderator Margaret Resce Milkint of Diversified Search Group noted that 2020 was a year of loss. Many women were hit hard, and not with just one thing. They suffered from PTSD, burnout, fear, anxiety and loneliness.
2. Leaders need to do a little bit more than say, “Here’s our 800 number.” Listen to employees, lead with empathy, and erase stigmas around mental health.
Michelle Dickinson of Care for Your People and author of “Breaking Into My Life,” discussed the importance of psychological resilience and the ways in which companies can support their employees by leading with empathy.
She wants to humanize mental illness and change the stigma around mental illness, especially in the workplace, by teaching managers to open a dialogue around mental illness.