As the effects of the pandemic intensify gender inequality, further threaten the economy, and raise hurdles for the health industry, companies’ actions now could see them through the crisis.
In the sixth year of our Women in the Workplace study, conducted in partnership with LeanIn.Org, we find that the effects of the COVID-19 crisis have exacerbated gender disparities and their implications for women at work, especially for mothers, female senior leaders, and Black women across America. In addition to being laid off and furloughed at higher rates than their male counterparts during the pandemic, women are—notably, for the first time in our research on the topic—considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether at staggering rates.
The exodus might include as many as two million women. That would raise a significant barrier to achieving gender parity in leadership roles in years to come. People are thinking about leaving the workforce for a variety of reasons (exhibit). While many organizations are providing additional resources related to remote working and employee well-being, there is more to be done to meet employees’ needs for sustainable, flexible, and empathic work environments, especially for parents and caregivers.
Meanwhile, the global economic contractions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have far exceeded those of the Great Recession that ended in 2009 and have occurred at a much faster rate, hitting all sectors and many of the world’s largest employers. As companies plan for various outcomes in 2021, our research shows what companies seeking resilience can do today to achieve “escape velocity” from the crisis by focusing on EBITDA margins, revenue, and optionality.
An area where companies have already adjusted well is using technology to address changing work environments and to stay competitive. Our new global survey finds that organizations that are successfully responding to the crisis have deployed more advanced technologies, digital products, and tech talent to speed up innovation—and they expect most of these changes to outlast the pandemic.
Our research this week sheds light on two important issues facing healthcare providers. First, similarities in flu and COVID-19 symptoms could lead to a threefold spike in demand for COVID-19 testing as flu season in the Northern Hemisphere approaches. Maintaining sufficient capacity for testing and contact tracing will be critical in curbing further outbreaks and protecting high-risk groups. Second, the crisis has also led to a surgical backlog for elective procedures because of lack of hospital capacity, workforce shortages, and new safety protocols. Health systems will need to optimize current clinical operations to address the discrepancies in supply and demand.
This week we also explored how European marketing-and-sales leaders are navigating the effects of the pandemic, the domino effect for improving sales returns on investment, disruption that is reshaping construction-material distribution, and steps that distributors can take to stabilize operations and outperform competitors.
Executives everywhere are thinking through the contours of the next normal. Consider our special collection The Next Normal: The Recovery Will Be Digital, featuring a 172-page curated volume that you can download—the first of five edited collections that accompany Our New Future, a multimedia series we created with CNBC.
You can also see the full collection of our coronavirus-related content, visual insights from our “chart of the day,” a curated collection of our first 100 articles related to the coronavirus, our suite of tools to help leaders respond to the pandemic, and how our editors choose images that help readers visualize the impact of an invisible threat.