We launched our Women Transforming the Workplace thought leadership program in 2018. The program was designed to shine a light on the issues that real women face in the workplace and create spaces to develop meaningful solutions. To accomplish our vision, we spoke to thousands of women and men across the country. We learned about their experiences related to automation, innovation, unconscious bias, and leadership, among others. Through community-building and co-creation initiatives, we explored the challenges brought about by an ever-demanding, paradigm-shifting, technology-driven world of work.
In the last two years, we published 4 white papers tackling current issues, hosted 6 roundtables in 3 cities, interviewed 16 podcast guests from all walks of life, and amplified thousands of voices. Here’s what we’ve learned so far.
30% of women are worried about losing their jobs to technology
There’s a critical need for women to actively participate in the digitization of the workplace, or they risk being left behind. Disruptive technology, automation, and digital transformation will have a clear impact on jobs in the (very) near future. This is a particular concern for many women in IT, retail, customer service, and, most of all, in manufacturing.
new roles are emerging
Machine learning, big data, and programming are growing sectors, but women make up a small percentage of the workforce in these industries. In fact, women continue to be dramatically underrepresented in industries focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), such as AI. In fact, only 22% of AI professionals are women, a gender gap 3x larger than in other industries.
73% of women ranked the ability to adapt to new technology as the most important skills they'll need over the next decade. However, even though over 60% consider themselves to be risk takers and innovators in their careers, less than half are doing something to protect their careers from the negative impact of technology.
soft skills are the future
While automation threatens jobs in several sectors historically employing high numbers of women (service roles and manufacturing assembly, for instance), workplace innovation has increased the demand for female labour. Many of the soft skills typically associated with women, such as communication and empathy, are difficult to recreate with technology.
gender bias is threaded through all aspects of women’s lives
Unconscious biases, also known as implicit biases, are the snap judgements we make about others without thinking. They’re an underlying factor in many aspects of a woman’s life: how she is expected to perform at work, how her skills are valued, or how her ambitions are perceived.
When it comes to education and work life, Men are encouraged to enter analytical, high-paying science, STEM fields, whereas women are told that ‘softer,’ caretaking roles are their forte. 92% of software developers in Canada are men, but 72% of teachers, 92% of nurses, 98% of early childhood educators in Canada are female.
To combat gender bias in education, boys need to be told it’s okay to pursue caretaking careers, just as girls should be encouraged to pursue roles in STEM.
COVID-19 exacerbated inequalities between men and women
While workers across the country have felt the negative effects of the pandemic, traditionally female-dominated sectors - like catering, social work, and cashiering - were the most impacted. Women are also more likely to hold non-leadership roles, which were more heavily affected. In Canada, 20% of women lost their jobs during the pandemic, versus 13% of men.
understanding intersectionality has never been more important
Women who find themselves being the only person of colour or person of their identity in workplace situations are 150% more likely to consider leaving their job. An intersectional approach ensures that women with diverse perspectives have a seat at the table and the ability to confer with other women. It’s impossible for one woman to speak for all women, so we must have diverse women who bring many viewpoints into leadership.
what’s next? amplifying diverse voices, experiences, and career journeys
It’s never been clearer that every woman is unique, faces her own set of challenges in the workplace, and has different ways of overcoming them. In 2021, let’s raise awareness of this diversity. Not only will we create spaces for women to tell their stories, but we will try our best to ensure that all genders, races, ages, and sexual orientations are represented. With a special focus on upskilling and reskilling, we will support women from all backgrounds and career stages to get back to work faster.
Stay tuned for more updates about Women Transforming the Workplace.