Matt McCauley: We depend on working mothers | Business

Matt mccauley

There are various reasons why our labor force participation rate remains lower than it was before COVID, but I think the two most important are our aging population and women as caregivers.

Regarding the latter, women have left the labor market twice as many as men since March 2020. As a result, the participation rate for women is now the lowest for more than 30 years, with around 1 woman. out of 3 leaving or reducing their work during the pandemic.

The question is therefore: “Why are so many women leaving the labor market?” “

We should have serious doubts about mass career exploration reports where COVID-19 fears are rife. The answer to me is very obvious: in most working households, women still disproportionately shoulder the burden of childcare (the reasons why are left to a much larger conversation). The simple fact is that women remain largely the caregivers of society, both inside and outside their homes.

Whether a child is in daycare or school, there are always many challenges that threaten any parent’s ability to work. For starters, there is little tolerance for your child to come to daycare or school with the sniffles in a post-COVID world. This is understandable and sometimes appropriate, but in a world where many children have only a runny nose on their toes, parents continue to face uncertainty about the continuity of care.

With the same standard applied to staff and labor shortages felt across industries, a single uncomfortable staff member can shut down care for dozens of families. During this time, interruptions and stops in custody usually cost parents the same price as whether their child received full care that day or not.

In addition, there remains the real and continuing threat of exposures and quarantines. We also live in a time when a night can be spent waiting for someone else’s COVID test results.

Before COVID, most parents knew that having a child in care meant that a myriad of colds, coughs, and an assortment of generally mild viruses would enter their homes throughout the year. Since the children returned to school, the number of colds and coughs in homes has come back with vengeance (believe me).

However, in a post-COVID world, it is no longer acceptable to attend daycare, school, work, conference, or social gatherings when you are even mildly ill. We no longer applaud someone for “hardening themselves” as good Midwesterners. While this may be a healthier standard, these new expectations can have a disproportionate impact on working mothers and their employers.

Even with childcare services available (although not enough) and schools open for in-person learning, working mothers on the whole face a host of new issues in addition to the already difficult ones presented. through parenthood.

The lucky ones, although exhausted, have benefited from flexible working hours that allow them to better balance their responsibilities. However, a growing body of evidence shows that many of these workers are also struggling and could face burnout.

On the other hand, workers whose jobs cannot be done remotely or on flexible schedules have not been so lucky. This has been particularly prevalent in industries historically dominated by women such as hotels, restaurants, retail and healthcare – where many of our current labor shortages are concentrated.

The continued uncertainty of what it means to be a parent during a pandemic has made a full return to work simply impossible for many women. Yet there are a lot of conversations, inside and outside the region, going on right now about how we can get more women back to work.

While each case (both employer and family) is different, I generally believe that understanding, patience, and adaptability – not politics – will ultimately be needed to deliver the best work-balance proposition. life.

As such, I know employers across the region are well aware that the skills employed by working mothers today – management, risk mitigation, persistence and prioritization – will make them even better employees when they can soon. again working at their full capacity. and be the moms they want to be.

Finally, in the spirit of the above, I want to thank my beautiful wife – a loving mother of two young boys who also owns a successful small business!

Matt McCauley is CEO of Networks Northwest.

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