If the Future of Work is Here, What Does it Mean for Women?

Prior to the pandemic, the future of work was a set of nebulous, emerging trends. But months later, it suddenly feels like the future of work has arrived. The question on our minds at the Alliance, which we are exploring in depth at our Annual Summit, is: is the future of work here? And how can we shape it to support women?  

Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly) the data show that many effects of the pandemic have disadvantaged women disproportionately. Women make up 39 percent of global employment but account for 54 percent of overall job losses; and women perform three times as much unpaid care work as their male counterparts. On the other hand, changes such as flexible work which pre pandemic was a significant lever in enabling Westpac to reach 50% female leadership, is now the norm. And in a recent survey by Catalyst, 71 percent of working people said that they believe Covid-19 will have a positive impact on gender equality in the workplace.

On October 8, day three of our Annual Summit, we will focus on the good and the bad of emerging trends as the pandemic reshapes work realities—and will examine the risks and opportunities we can prepare for as we recalibrate gender inclusion strategies going forward. An expert lineup of HR leaders and diversity and inclusion specialists from financial institutions across the world will share their perspectives on the most pressing questions for women’s future at work.  

Also on October 8, we will launch our latest How-To-Guide: Becoming the Employer of Choice for Women. We created this guide, in partnership with Mercer and our members, to give financial service providers the tools to improve their diversity and inclusion practices and as a result strengthen their capabilities to tap into the female economy. Research shows that strong gender D&I practices are essential to performing well with women customers and make for more successful and sustainable companies in general; companies with gender diverse C-suites are 21 percentage points more likely to have higher financial returns than their less-diverse peers, according to McKinsey’s research. 

While the business case is clear, achieving gender-equal workplaces is no simple task. Our Women in Leadership Working Group brought to light many of the nuances involved, including risks like the unintended consequences of focusing on women only and recommendations such as how to develop a female talent pipeline into the C-Suite. 

Flexibility is key in developing successful gender diversity and inclusion efforts; it’s also key to adapting to the future of work in a post-pandemic world. Our 2020 Annual Summit is a space to share ideas and insights that improve our flexibility, so that Alliance members continue to be employers of choice for women that lead the financial services sector towards parity.