Ending the ’Shecession’: 3 Ways Businesses Can Attract and Retain Female Professionals

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The “shecession” is trending right now, and for good reason. Record numbers of women exited the US workforce throughout 2020 — 617,000 in September alone, compared to 78,000 men. 

Largely, this disparity is the result of the fact that women have had to shoulder much of the pandemic’s impact on US households, from the lack of daycare options to caring for elderly parents and overseeing their children’s online schooling.

But women account for the majority of the workforce, and smart companies know they can’t afford to lose this vital part of their talent pools. Like most companies, we at CHG Healthcare found we needed to make some changes to address the challenges facing the women in our company if we wanted to retain these workers. Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way. 

Embrace Schedules That Work for Busy Women 

We were striving to create a more flexible workplace before COVID-19 hit, but we never could have imagined we’d need to become a fully remote workplace overnight. Despite the initial hiccups with technology and makeshift offices, most of our people really enjoy working from the comfort of their homes. 

But now that homes are also offices — and schools, and daycares — we realized we needed to be more flexible. Many of our people now work on some sort of adjusted schedule that accommodates their at-home needs. Some work more in the mornings, nights, or weekends to balance their professional responsibilities with their family lives — and we’re okay with that. As long as our people can still get their work done, we’re happy to continue supporting this flexible scheduling model.

We have also learned that some people prefer to work in the office, so we recently began reopening socially distanced workspaces for those who want to come back at different times during the week. We plan to continue to supporting this kind of flexibility of workspace even after the pandemic ends. 

Focus on Benefits That Support Women Through All of Life’s Phases

Many companies have been forced to cut costs during the pandemic, but it’s important to make sure you’re still taking care of your people. We try to provide benefits that support women wherever they are in their lives or careers — whether that’s maternity coverage, mentorship and networking opportunities, or retirement planning. 

Check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine for more career advice and recruiting trends:

The most meaningful benefit for our employees during the pandemic has been our mental health coverage. With all the stress resulting from COVID-19, our people have had more reason than ever to take advantage of mental health counseling. In fact, we’ve even hired additional counselors for our on-site clinics, and we’ve expanded virtual mental health services for our employees’ family members. 

Regardless of whether or not you have an official mental health benefit, make sure you are addressing the additional stress the women in your organization are facing at a time like this. Be a listening ear. Offer support. Find ways to relieve stress where you can. And don’t forget to encourage your people to take time off when they need it. 

Make Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Your Priorities

We believe diversity makes us stronger. We believe our people’s voices matter, and that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to be successful.

However, actions speak louder than words — especially when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. So, we are continuously looking for opportunities to improve equity in areas like pay, hiring, promotions, and overall employee experience.

This year, we’re also kicking off a new diversity, equity, and inclusion program that will focus on increasing diverse representation at every level of the company. Through this program, we’ll host employee roundtable discussions about topics like racism and inequality, where our people can ask each other questions, share experiences, and find ways to support one another. Our community impact team has also expanded its effort to find ways for our people to learn about social justice causes and get involved in their local communities. Most importantly, we’ll ask our people what we can do as an organization to become more inclusive for all.

We know we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we see it as an investment in our future as we work to keep our people engaged and attract new talent. As a woman and a leader, I hope all of our organizations can do their part to reverse the shecession and drive a new era of equality and empowerment. 

Christine VanCampen is vice president of culture and engagement at CHG Healthcare.

By Christine VanCampen