Women are needed in leadership post-pandemic.
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Covid-19 demanded more from leaders. It required the ability to adjust to social distancing and teams working from home. It demanded an understanding that work and family life had suddenly merged, with children often doing school in the same rooms where their parents attended board meetings. It asked the leaders to care more deeply for the physical and emotional well-being of the employee.
Leaders had to find new ways to build connections and motivate individuals toward a common goal. If they weren’t already, they had to listen with an empathetic ear to the challenges faced by each employee in their care. They managed workflows and scattered team members who needed direction on how to go from in-person to remote work.
It’s not surprising that women took to these new challenges more readily. The women leaders who created supportive environments in the middle of chaos and crisis lifted each team member up while inspiring and supporting them where needed. They created employees who were excited to work, for their companies and felt valued and encouraged.
Why post-pandemic recovery requires female leadership
Communication skills have always been at the top of the list of leadership traits, but they are more critical than ever. Pre-pandemic, knowing how to speak publicly and harnessing the power of body language were key. Now, learning how to use the written word to create inspiring content and clear day-to-day communication is just as vital.
Women stand out in their ability to communicate, be compassionate, agile and seek out compromise for the common good — all of which was made apparent throughout the pandemic.
Now, as we move forward towards recovery, these same women can not be pushed to the sidelines. The women leaders who rose to the occasion to lead us through the chaos of 2020 are the same ones who can help us move forward.
Companies that have women CEOs benefit from the female perspective. In 2018, Deloitte Review highlighted the importance of having a diverse and inclusive workplace. Still, it took the pandemic of 2020 to see just how vital women leaders are to company sustainability and ingenuity.
New ideas come from diverse ways of seeing things, but before a board room can benefit, diversity has to be invited to stay.
Will history repeat with women leaders being pushed to the side?
During World War II, women had to step into a number of jobs while the men were away at war. The truth is those men would not have been successful if the women at home had not stepped into the roles of mechanics, truck drivers, factory workers and even put on the US military uniform to work as clerks and nurses.
The sad truth is that when the men returned, the women were sent back to the household chores. They had proven themselves capable and were sidelined when the men returned.
While some women were able to step more fully into the natural fit of leader in 2020, others saw their careers disappear. This was in part due to the gender pay gap where families had to make the hard decision of who would continue working and who would focus on the children’s schooling.
But as schools and businesses fully reopen, will this cycle continue?
If we truly want a strong recovery post-pandemic, then we must place more women in leadership roles. It’s better for our workforce, our economy and our government.