UN Women has made “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day. While there have been many discussions around women in leadership, the question is: Have we made enough progress?
Despite strides in women's representation in powerful roles, the number of women in leadership is still disproportionately low. Women may represent 40 percent of the global working population, but only a few are in senior roles. It’s no different in India. Women account for only 14 percent of leadership positions in Indian companies, according to the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2020.
The COVID-19 crisis has made matters worse. According to Lean In’s Women in the Workplace 2020 report, senior-level women are 1.5 times more likely than their male counterparts to think about downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce because of COVID-19. This could only widen the existing gender gap at the leadership level.
The risk is real. The COVID-19 situation could wash away years of efforts toward closing that gap if timely action is not taken. So, what can companies do differently to retain and encourage women in leadership roles?
Here are a few things they could focus on: