Progress in closing the gender leadership gap has been slow, at times painfully so for many years. However, due to the Covid-19 crisis, we risk erasing all the progress made over the last six years. This is according to research by McKinsey & Co and Lean in for their annual Women in the Workplace report.
In addition to the devastating effect it has had on the physical health of millions, the Covid-19 crisis has also severely affected people’s mental health and their entire lives, with women being impacted more severely on average.
The line between work and life is now more blurred than ever, with many working from home. Many women also feel like they are expected to produce the same level of work expected pre-pandemic, while also doing most of the unpaid work at home, and in some cases also homeschooling.
According to the women in the workplace report, women feel like they are failing everywhere due to all this pressure. Progressing up the corporate ladder to close the gender leadership gap is therefore no longer a priority for many women who had this ambition in the past. In fact, one in four women are thinking of voluntarily leaving the workforce or significantly scaling back their career due to these pressures, and the numbers increase to one in three for mothers.
As someone passionate about equality and helping women thrive and reach their highest potential both professionally and personally, I find these statistics devastating and disturbing.
As a mum of 2 young kids, I know that juggling it all can feel impossible, especially with the pandemic and everything else to deal with. However, through my work helping hundreds of women worldwide using my “Childproof Your Career” Framework, I also know that anything is possible. You do not have to sacrifice your career for the sake of your family, or vice versa. So, if you’re struggling or considering quitting the workforce, this article has tips from my framework to not only help you survive but also thrive in these challenging times. Therefore, you don’t need to quit work if you want both a meaningful career and a happy family life.
Tip 1: Activate Your Superpowers
When circumstances get overwhelming, my first tip is to invite you to activate your unique superpowers, which we all have. Every parent knows that we need to make tradeoffs between commitments in work and life. This is challenging under normal circumstances. But even more, when dealing with the uncertainty and chaos, we have all had to during this crisis.
By activating your superpowers, you cut through all the noise to find the right solution to address each challenge. An example of this is, accessing your intuition to find the solution to a complex issue, or to prioritize when many important things are vying for your attention.
Tip 2: Activate Your Success Schedule
Sometimes it feels like you’re being pulled in a million different directions with so much going on with work and life merged into one. However, you can take back control by activating what I like to call your success schedule. This will help you go from “reaction mode” to all the difficult and challenging things that are happening, into “creation mode” where you set it up so how you use your time leads you towards creating the amazing vision you have set for your work and life regardless of what is going on in the world. You in effect go from just “spending” time each day to becoming a “deliberate investor” of your time.
Tip 3: Activate Your Personal Board of Directors
Your personal board of directors consists of people in your personal and professional life who can help you achieve the vision and goals you have set for yourself. These can be friends, family members, mentors and sponsors at work, or a life coach.
You need to deal with many things, and you may think that you need to have it all figured out, but it’s okay not to know everything. Contrary to popular belief, nobody is perfect, and nobody has it all figured out. It’s okay to need and ask for help, and many people would be willing to help you.
Activating your board of directors is about enlisting help from those people that can move you closer to your vision of having both a thriving career and personal life, and putting distance between yourself and those who harm your progress towards that vision.
A key thing to remember is that even when you implement these tips, things will still not be perfect. And that’s okay because “perfect” does not exist. Above all, I invite you to have some compassion on yourself, and seek help and advice before making any important decisions on scaling back or leaving your career. You don’t have to do this alone and may find that the right perspective from someone else could be just what you need to create solutions that bless you and those around you.