3 minute read 25 Mar. 2021
EY Woman working at a desk

Accelerating gender equality will take much more than good intentions

By Anne-Marie Hubert

EY Canada Managing Partner, East

Known as a connector in the market and a change leader to help grow our people, clients and communities.

3 minute read 25 Mar. 2021

Are companies doing everything they can to help women rejoin the workforce? Find out how to accelerate gender equality in a post-pandemic future.

The global pandemic continues to have an effect on all our lives, but for some individuals, its impact has been harder felt.

With one-third of women stepping away from the workforce to undertake caretaking responsibilities, it’s clear that a return to normal isn’t in sight. Companies that turn a blind eye to the recent impacts on women in the workforce risk not only sacrificing progress towards gender parity, but also the opportunity for long-term value creation.

As the calls grow louder for more gender-inclusive workplaces, organizations need to take action to address growing inequality gaps and build a strong foundation of allyship where both men and women are active advocates for women looking to advance their careers.

Take positive action

Despite the mass shift to remote working, balancing both personal and professional demands can be overwhelming. But we can use this moment to push forward family-focused policies that help drive gender equality further. Implementing flexibility policies that recognize an individual’s family commitments and responsibilities — like tending to elderly parents, taking care of newborns or overseeing children’s virtual schooling — will help people better manage these challenges, while resulting in lower turnover and ultimately greater productivity.

At EY, we’ve implemented policies like equal maternity and paternity leave — resulting in lower turnover rates for women — and we run programs that provide a bridge for professionals to re-enter the workplace after an extended break. Changing such workplace policies and creating a stronger culture of belonging will be key to an inclusive economic recovery in Canada and across the globe.

Invest in the right programs

Today’s business leaders are focused on putting humans at the center and are under far more pressure to build talented and inclusive teams that meet the increasing demands from stakeholders and society. At the same time, these new priorities create opportunities for female leaders to step in and steer the ship. As leaders and colleagues, we need to think of how we can use our professional influence to do more to enable women to reach their full potential through mentorship and allyship opportunities.

Having the proper support along the way is only one side of the coin — organizations need to put the right programs in place, while setting clear standards and measurable goals to ensure progress at every level. At EY, we’re focused on developing a pipeline of female talent and through our women’s network, we pair up-and-coming women with senior directors and partners across the organization to help build profiles and sponsor their path to leadership. Collectively, we can use our influence to ensure that women belong as we set them up for long-term success.

Today’s organizations have a unique opportunity to recalibrate and shape what our future might look like. By ensuring women belong at all levels of decision making and leadership, we can drive gender equality further and faster, while creating transformational change for the leaders of tomorrow.

For more information on how we’re supporting the advancement of women, visit Women. Fast Forward.

Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women in the workforce. To accelerate gender equality and build a pipeline of next generation female leadership, organizations must position women to be successful by implementing new policies, while providing ongoing mentorship and support.

About this article

By Anne-Marie Hubert

EY Canada Managing Partner, East

Known as a connector in the market and a change leader to help grow our people, clients and communities.