The COVID-19 Crisis Could Set Women Back Half A Decade

Women have been making great strides towards removing barriers and bias that have been used for years to limit our opportunities. Our voices are being heard about closing the wage gap and our desire to have a place in leadership roles. Organizations like HerSuiteSpot have been focusing on preparing women to develop their professional skills leadership and entrepreneurship development.

In comes 2020, the COVID-19 crisis has disrupted so much of what women have been working so tirelessly for the last 6 years since the last Women in the Workplace report by and McKinsey & Company. We are on the verge of going back half a decade but Corporate America has an opportunity to reverse these findings. Here are some of the highlights from this year’s report:

  • “At the beginning of 2020, the representation of women in corporate America was trending in the right direction. This was most pronounced in senior management: between January 2015 and January 2020, representation of women in senior-vice-president positions grew from 23 to 28 percent, and representation in the C-suite grew from 17 to 21 percent (Exhibit 1). Women remained dramatically underrepresented—particularly women of color—but the numbers were slowly improving.”
  • “Women—especially women of color—are more likely to have been laid off or furloughed during the COVID-19 crisis, stalling their careers and jeopardizing their financial security. The pandemic has intensified challenges that women already faced. Working mothers have always worked a “double shift”—a full day of work, followed by hours spent caring for children and doing household labor. Now the supports that made this possible—including school and childcare—have been upended.”
  • “Meanwhile, Black women already faced more barriers to advancement than most other employees. Today they’re also coping with the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Black community. And the emotional toll of repeated instances of racial violence falls heavily on their shoulders.”
  • “Despite gains for women in leadership, the “broken rung” was still a major barrier in 2019. For the sixth year in a row, women continued to lose ground at the first step up to manager. For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 85 women were promoted—and this gap was even larger for some women: only 58 Black women and 71 Latinas were promoted. As a result, women remained significantly outnumbered in entry-level management at the beginning of 2020—they held just 38 percent of manager-level positions, while men held 62 percent“.
  • “Given the enormous challenges mothers are facing at work and at home, two things should come as no surprise: many mothers are considering downshifting their career or leaving the workforce, and mothers are significantly more likely to be thinking about taking these steps than fathers. Among mothers who are thinking about downshifting or leaving, a majority cite childcare responsibilities as a primary reason”.

Read more about the report here. 


 Marsha Guerrier is a bestselling author, speaker, trainer, business analyst, business coach, and CEO of HerSuiteSpot®, a MWBE and SBE certified small business consulting and coaching agency that provides online and in-person support to early stage female founders looking to accelerate their business.

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