Teresa Mosqueda, a Seattle City Council member attends a meeting from home during the coronavirus in Seattle, Washington, US, March 23. Reuters/ A woman’s work life
The economic fallout of Covid-19 has already pushed tens of millions of people across the world into unemployment, the majority of them women.
“I think once a woman makes a decision to come back, she is going to be a bigger star than she was and these women were already stars before.”
The severity of the crisis, coupled with the fact that the burden of caring for the sick, the elderly and young children in our society falls disproportionately on women, suggests difficult times ahead for women’s careers.
The progress women have made in the labour force over the last 30 years could be reversed in a period of one year or less.
A woman’s work life and career break – feedback from great back to work programmes
In interviews, the returners described the 10-week experience as “a lab”, “being part of a family” and “a safe space”. The programme manager adopted a protective stance toward her charges as they took their first steps back into the corporate world, describing herself as a “godmother duck” and the returners as “swans that became so beautiful”.
The returners were not the only ones changed by R2C. The recruiting manager responsible for selecting R2C participants said: “I will be honest, as a woman who has not been a mother, when I see big career gaps, I assume this career gap is by choice…I am not sure about the commitment.”
However, looking back over the R2C experience, the recruiting manager said, “What I realised is a lot of these women did not mean to leave for four years…Sometimes you cannot go back. Sometimes, you have relocated with your husband. A person has the right to take some time off.”
Zoe Kinias is an associate professor of organisational behaviour at Insead and the academic director of its gender initiative
Henriane Mourgue d’Algue is an executive coach and a graduate of Insead’s Executive Master in Change programme