Equity and Equality for Women in the Workplace Soared During COVID Pandemic, But Have Women Had Enough of Corporate America?

By Katherine Gourley | October 27, 2022

Women have been fighting for workplace equity and equality for decades. The challenges faced on personal, professional, and global levels during the pandemic, were incredibly difficult for all. During this time, women in the corporate workforce made their largest strides towards equity with their male colleagues. Since 2016, consulting firm McKinsey & Company has been spearheading the initiative to support the women's equality movement in the workplace by providing comprehensive data on the subject.

McKinsey’s 2021 data set reflects contributions from 423 participating organizations employing 12 million people and more than 65,000 people surveyed on their workplace experiences; “in-depth interviews were also conducted with women of diverse identities, including women of color, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities'' (McKinsey.com). One of the most significant data points in the study showed that for every 100 men promoted to management positions, 86 women received the same promotion; a promotion equality rate of 86%. While promotion equality is still not as high as it should be, this is a 10% jump in promotion equality from 2019. This statistic represents one of the most significant advances for women in the workplace in history.

Although, women are now faced with another challenge, the feeling of over exhaustion/stress in the workplace and home, more commonly referred to as burnout. McKinsey’s study revealed that while burnout in Corporate America is on the rise for all employees, the burnout gap between women and men has almost doubled in the past year alone. When surveyed, the majority of women say that the flexibility and support surrounding their jobs that employers offered in the height of the pandemic is slowly diminishing. One in three women admit that in the last year they have thought about leaving their jobs in corporate America. Of the women that have left, over 50% of them now work in entrepreneurship claiming the field provides them with more flexibility, control, fulfillment and more rapid career advancement. Working at smaller firms generally means the work is more hands-on and collaborative, with less hoops to jump through to accomplish a task or suggest something new.

So where does this leave the future of women in Corporate America? The overwhelming consensus of studies surfacing after the pandemic suggest employers continue to adapt to a new working style over the next few years. Developing the new workplace balance of returning to the office has been challenging for everyone. Women are just asking for their voices to be continued to be heard and the same flexibility and transparency companies gave during the pandemic to be upheld today. Hopefully companies will meet these requests and women's equity and equality will continue to soar as it did throughout the pandemic.

Edited by Michael D'Ambrosio