From delivery drivers to Prime Ministers, from fast-food workers to Tom Hanks, the novel coronavirus doesn’t appear to discriminate. At least not immediately so.
Even as Australians emerge from isolation (some more cautiously than others), we are still to fully comprehend what the pandemic’s long-term repercussions will be. It is, however, becoming increasingly clear that this crisis has not affected everyone equally.
Australian women are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 employment fallout.
Faster Horses data shows that 18% of women have lost their jobs as a result of lockdowns, compared to 11% of men.
The gender disparity is even greater amongst blue collar workers where women were more than twice as likely to have lost their jobs than men (32% to 15%).
This is disheartening to read, but not at all surprising when we consider that women dominate the retail, hospitality, travel and childcare sectors. These occupations are primarily people-facing, not telecommutable and have been devastated by COVID-19 lockdowns.
It is also well documented that women are over-represented in part-time and casual work, as they remain the primary caregivers in families. This makes women prone to insecure employment and more vulnerable to economic shock.
How can brands and organisations respond?
While celebrity-endorsed affirmations of “all in this together” are well-intentioned, these kinds of blanket statements can come across as tone-deaf to those who have been disproportionately affected. Quite simply, a gender-neutral, one-size-fits-all approach could well alienate different audiences.
So how should you respond?
- Plan with consideration – Ensure female voices are considered in your COVID-19 response planning and decision making.
- Listen and react – Reach out to your female colleagues, employees, community and customers. Ask them what their COVID-19 experience has been like. Understanding their needs will help you better support them in the months to come.
- Measure – Measure your brand and communications performance. How is your COVID-19 response being received amongst different demographics?
- Adapt permanently – Aim to maximise workplace flexibility: during lockdown, many workplaces adapted significantly. Don’t let these learnings go to waste. Find out what worked and what didn’t. A more flexible workplace culture is likely to align better to everyone’s needs, but particularly those with families and childcare responsibilities.
For more information on what Faster Horses has uncovered in relation to human response to COVID-19, contact Natasha Capstick (0422 501 655).