For decades, organizations have tried to address the gender inequities that women at work face in recruiting, hiring, career development, promotions, pay and retention. Experts and leaders from organizations such as Amazon Web Services, BDO, the National Security Agency (NSA) and many others will address these tough issues during the Women@Work virtual conference on May 25, 2021.

For decades, organizations have tried to address the gender inequities that women at work face in recruiting, hiring, career development, promotions, pay and retention.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent economic turbulence only exacerbated these issues. While both men and women lost a significant number of jobs during 2020, women lost a total of 5.4 million jobs, which was a million more than men. In December 2020, U.S. employers cut 140,000 jobs, many of which were held by women.

Experts and leaders from organizations such as The Mom Project, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Workhuman, Luminary and many others will address these tough issues during the Women@Work: Redefining the Workforce of the Future virtual conference at 11:30 a.m. EST on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. The panels will give expert perspectives on the impact of the pandemic and the decades-long inequities women have faced in the workforce, offering an equitable vision for the future.

An (Involuntary) Exodus from the Workforce

During the pandemic, women working in vulnerable industries like education, hospitality and retail, were hit particularly hard, but they weren't the only ones to go jobless. Businesses that shifted from working in the office to working from home faced their own challenges.

With childcare centers and schools closed, families have had to juggle working at their jobs, supervising their children's schoolwork and handling other family responsibilities. It was found that even when two parents worked at home, women still provided the majority of care. When the struggle to take on the equivalent of two or three full-time jobs became untenable, working women exited the workforce in droves. As a result, 865,000 women quit their jobs last September alone.

What makes this difficult situation even worse is that the progress many women were making in their careers largely slowed or stopped altogether. Many of them may never recover their full career growth or economic potential, even after returning to work.

The Deficit Must Be Addressed by Organizations Large and Small

The current situation isn't just devastating for women; it's catastrophic for businesses. Studies have shown without a doubt that diverse organizations are more successful, with gender-diverse teams making better decisions and their businesses seeing greater profits. Organizations must attract, develop and retain employees with a variety of perspectives, experiences and strengths. To lose a significant group of the employee population could have irreversible long-term consequences.

Accordingly, businesses must acknowledge and address the imbalance. This starts with understanding the barriers women at work face on the job. What are the processes, practices and expectations (expressed or implied) that organizations have regarding employees? What flexibility do employees have to balance their work and personal responsibilities? How are organizations creating paths for women who want to return to work and re-establish a career track after a break?

These are complex questions with few easy answers, but organizations must find the right solutions for their current — and future — workforce to maintain their momentum and profitability.

Redefining the Workforce of the Future at the Women@Work Summit

The half-day Women@Work Summit, hosted by ADP, will inspire important conversations for HR leaders and business owners in an effort to understand the scope and economic impact of gender inequity so they can adopt and develop strategies that will produce positive organizational change.

Keynote speakers will share powerful and engaging data-driven insights and research about the world of work. Nela Richardson, ADP's Chief Economist, will use lessons from economic research to determine what works for improving gender equity and what doesn't. As a doctor of economics and a frequent contributor to global conversations about economic impact, Richardson will bring a long and rich history of economic analysis to her opening address, highlighting how the pandemic has impacted pay equity and exploring what organizations can do to close the pay gap.

Marcus Buckingham, NYT Best-Selling Author and Head of ADP Research Institute – People + Performance, will give leaders actionable ways to be more resilient and promote capability within their teams from his groundbreaking global studies on resilience and engagement. In this keynote session, Buckingham will bring data from a 25-country study to offer a measurable understanding of resilience in action.

In addition to these enlightening conversations, the conference will offer three panels, each focusing on a particular aspect of gender equity:

  • Creating Equity Across Industries. Experts from the NSA, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Amazon Web Services, BDO and WorkMarket will explore specific steps leaders are taking to create equity across industries and through all levels of their organizations. The panelists with provide personal anecdotes and highlight specific steps organizations can take to reverse the loss and create safe spaces for women to thrive in the workplace.
  • Women's Mental Health and Wellness: Creating Conditions to Thrive. Led by leaders from Peer Support Space, Peak Performance Method, Mental Wellness Unleashed and New York University's School of Medicine, this panel will delve into the systemic and societal issues that affect women's mental health and outline how to adjust policies to better support working women and minimize burnout. These champions of women's mental health will explore the increased burden placed on women — especially BIPOC and LGBTQ+ women — to juggle caretaking and work, and they'll provide tips for actionable interventions for reducing this burden.
  • Charting the Path Forward for Women at Work. This panel will highlight best practices to help women onboard after a career break, providing sage advice from leaders at The Mom Project, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Workhuman, Luminary and ADP. The panel will address a central question currently on many leaders' minds: as employees return to work, how can organizations support women to ensure equity and inclusion at work?

Closing out the day, businesswoman, entrepreneur and philanthropist Sara Blakely will deliver the keynote, helping to summarize all the discussions of the day and provide a look at what comes next for women at work.

Sara Blakely is the founder and CEO of SPANX. She revolutionized the undergarment industry with just $5,000 and a "lucky" red backpack and turned it into a global brand known for inventing smarter, more comfortable solutions. Sara was named one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the world and was featured on the cover of Forbes Magazine as the youngest self-made female billionaire. She's also a Guinness World Record holder for having the world's highest tea party on top of a hot air balloon… but on Instagram, you may know her as the "Pancake Queen" – making pancakes in crazy shapes and sizes for her four children. Blakely has invested millions of dollars to elevate women and in 2013, she signed the Giving Pledge, promising to donate half her wealth to philanthropy. To this day, SPANX has never taken any outside investments.

Gender inequity isn't a new challenge, rather it's been magnified as we adjust to many challenges presented by the recent health event. The Women@Work conference will give leaders the knowledge and tools to inspire change they'd like to see within their own organizations.

Please join us for the Women@Work event by registering here.

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