With COVID-19 continuing to uproot the way we all live and work, it’s concerning to see how significant these changes have been on women in particular. A UN report reveals how the pandemic is exacerbating already present gender inequalities which, now more than ever, are disproportionately affecting women and girls.
These factors include a higher loss of employment with women holding the majority of insecure, informal and lower-paying jobs, along with a rapid increase in unpaid care work which is mostly provided by women and girls. Unfortunately, this means they are ultimately the ones paying the highest social and economic price of this pandemic.
And so, more than ever before, it’s vital that companies take the issue of gender equality seriously. Everyone knows ensuring diversity of people and perspectives is what makes an organisation truly successful. Therefore, employers need to be proactive when it comes to assessing and expanding their policies, and update their ways of working to ensure accessibility for all.
As a people-centred business ourselves, we’re committed to always pushing to do more and be better. We want our colleagues around the world to challenge and question one another and, in this way, push each other to think differently. It is by seeing and welcoming others’ viewpoints that ultimately makes us a more competent, well-rounded business, with the ability to deliver a higher quality of work for our clients.
All in (much longer than) a day’s work
Creating a culture that encourages people to think differently and embrace diversity is essential to changing the way we behave in our day-to-day work. However, companies should know that opening people’s minds to deep-seated issues of inequality will not happen overnight. As much as they can say all the right things, people want to see commitments carried through in the long-term.
When it comes to communication and properly engaging with employees on these kinds of matters, companies need to make sure they understand their lived experiences both in and outside of the workplace. First and foremost, this starts with listening.
Speak and be heard
March marks a time to celebrate women and raise awareness of the challenges they often face. On International Women’s Day, we were thrilled to have launched an Employee Resource Group (ERG) for women in our European network. Entitled Europe’s Women, its purpose is to create a platform for women and allies at all levels of seniority, providing more opportunities for them to share their experiences about being a woman in the workplace, and the space to challenge and learn from one another as they do so.
The group’s activities will include several events a year, focusing on key issues such as returning to work after maternity leave, approaching difficult conversations like promotions and pay rises, female health and tackling feelings of Imposter Syndrome—to name only a few! The group will also be reviewing current company policies, such as maternity and paternity leave, with the hopes of strengthening our own standards as an organisation.
Let’s continue to drive change
As the world’s largest women-owned and independent advisory and advocacy communications consultancy, we strongly believe it is our responsibility to constantly look inwards at ourselves and review what more we could be doing to make positive change in our business. In doing this, we aim to always be pushing to cultivate a more diverse and inclusive—and therefore stronger—workforce.
We often talk about “great places to work for” as a theoretical exercise but, here at APCO, we’re constantly striving to do everything we can to make this a place where each and every one of us feels welcome to come as we are.
We want to empower our employees to speak up and know they will be heard. We want our employees to always feel respected and supported. We want our employees to thrive in their uniqueness, and feel fulfilled in their careers. A company is only as good as its people—let’s always remember that.