Legal Blog

Use the ‘Shecession’ as a Springboard

Busy woman trying to work while babysitting three kids. Young Asian mother on a call with three children playing around her . Working women with multitasking. RA PwC report issued on March 2, 2021, confirmed that women had been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with progress for women in work returning to 2017 levels. The term “shecession” has been bandied about for the last year to describe the loss of women from the workforce. Jobs that were occupied primarily by women were curtailed or eliminated as pandemic shutdowns forced businesses to close. PwC noted that in October of 2020, the accommodation and food services sector in the UK alone lost 600,000 jobs, of which 55% were women. The closure of schools and private sector support for housework and childcare meant that women were spending an average of 7.7 hours more a week than men on unpaid childcare. The challenges forced many women who were still employed to step away from their jobs. Anyone who has tried to do a Zoom call while juggling young children who are engaged in remote learning can understand why that is the case.

The long-term economic impact of this is going to ripple throughout the economy for years. As schools re-open, women who try to re-enter the workforce are likely going to face challenges defending their experience levels, their commitment to a future employer, and the lingering concern that this could happen again. It is uncertain how those factors will impact the ability of women to successfully re-enter the workforce at their pre-pandemic wage, hours, and seniority levels. The only thing that is certain is that it is hard to plan for an uncertain future.

Coupled with such uncertainties of women re-entering the workforce, research outlined in a 2018 BRQ: Business Research Quarterly article determined that “economic crisis affects not only the capacity of individuals to start up new firms but also their desire, ability, need and motivation to identify and exploit new business opportunities.” Essentially, because people see the future as bleak, they are not as likely to take charge in starting their own ventures.

But what if we turned that perception on its head? The reports only tell us the downside of what has happened. As Ben Franklin said, “Out of adversity comes opportunity.” How many women have been innovating to make their pandemic struggles less challenging for themselves and others? How many women, unrestricted by the constraints of a typical 9 to 5 office culture, have developed a business plan for an idea that they’ve been considering for years or worked on a passion project that has long languished? How many women have dreamed of starting their own business, but were too comfortable with the stability of their pre-pandemic reality, are now taking the leap?

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shecession have given us lemons. Now may be the perfect time to make lemonade by working on those product pitches, designing those business plans, and turning a passion into a marketable business.