Pandemic Effect on C-level Women

By McKenzie Schwark
Pandemic Effects

The statistics show that the pandemic has had a major effect on women. Unanticipated childcare needs, changes in work structure, and added responsibilities at work and at home have all contributed to pushing women out of the workforce. So, what does that mean for women in C-level positions?

The pandemic has threatened to undo much of the progress women have made in the workforce. According to Forbes, “during the first quarter of 2021, 41 women – the highest number ever – were leading Fortune 500 companies.” Women had slowly but surely climbed the corporate ladder and made significant progress. But now, as the pandemic drags on, women are burning out and being pushed out of their positions.

Although progress has been made for women in the workforce, the amount of women that have been and will continue to leave their positions threatens the upward mobility of women in the workforce. If women are being driven out of entry- or mid-level positions, they won’t be available or ready to take on higher-level positions, and those opportunities will likely go back to their male peers.

The consequence of this – a workforce made up of burnt out, exhausted women crumbling under the pressures from both work and home – is losing women in leadership positions, or in companies altogether. That hurts both women and the companies they work for.

When it comes to retaining and advancing women to C-level positions, Karen Moore of Forbes writes, “I believe we need to promote the activation of sponsorship versus mentorship, where men – and women – in C-level positions are seeking out junior-level women with potential and coming alongside them as advocates to spotlight their talent and help them advance.”

Over the previous five years, women made major strides in corporate America, but the pandemic has all but erased that progress. The financial, physical, and mental challenges that have emerged since COVID-19 appeared have taken an extreme toll on working women. report on Women in the Workplace found that many women were now seeking out less demanding opportunities and looking instead for a better work-life balance.

It’s crucial that as we rebuild post-pandemic, companies consider the unique needs and challenges of their female employees. Having women in top-level positions is crucial to a diverse and equitable workforce, and we can all agree a workforce run almost exclusively by old white men is something we can leave in the pre-pandemic era.