Women in the green building industry are facing historic financial, familial, and professional challenges
as a result of COVID-19, according to a new survey from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Of nearly 500 women surveyed, 62% of respondents agree that the pandemic is negatively impacting workplace equality.
Building design, construction, and operations have been male-dominated fields and like many industries gender equity gains over the years are now being threatened by the pandemic. USGBC’s Women in the Workplace survey revealed that respondents are primarily being impacted by family (67%) and professional (61%) pressures. For self-employed women, COVID-19 has added an entirely new set of challenges from lack of work, to lack of time finding new business due to caretaking demands.
86% did note employers have made efforts to be supportive of employees juggling remote work and childcare, but survey respondents indicate its women who primarily shoulder the burden when children cannot go to school. The added responsibilities are pushing women to feel as if they must sacrifice their career.
Training leaders to be empathizers and ensuring underrepresented employees feel seen and heard will be critical as corporate leaders and their employees continue to adjust to the disruptions the from pandemic.
A Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed that since February 2020, women account for 55% of all jobs lost. For those who are self-employed or own their own business, the pandemic has created an additional layer of challenges. An independent architect commented that business has halted and “additionally, I have had to take care of all the housework, so the hours dedicated to [find] new projects are each day more limited.”
Greater flexibility, eliminating commutes and the opportunity to spend more time with family are some of the silver linings of remote work that have emerged. The vast majority of respondents also credit employers with being supportive of their circumstance and obligations. Employers and colleagues have become accepting of toddler drop-ins during video calls and tardiness to meetings. Many responses also indicate their company leadership is regularly communicating with employees and sharing workplace policies and benefits available to support social and emotional well-being. Some employers have also provided additional paid sick leave and stipends for childcare to help alleviate pressures.
USGBC is working to elevate female voices in the green building field, but there is still more to be done.
For More Information:
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. For more, visit usgbc.org.
Modern Contractor Solutions, October 2020
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