A Women in the Workplace survey from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) reveals women across the green building industry are facing historic challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Of nearly 500 women surveyed, 86 percent feel supported by employers, yet nearly 90 percent note they are still facing challenges when it comes to financial, familial, and professional responsibilities.
“The results of this survey mirror what we are also seeing at a national level – the challenges that have emerged because of COVID-19 are great, but USGBC is committed to doubling double down on the ideals, personal relationships, and charges, to help create a better, more equitable road ahead,” said Taryn Holowka, senior vice-president of marketing, communications, and advocacy at USGBC
A recent United Nations study cautioned COVID-19 could undo decades of meaningful progress around gender equity and more than 60 percent of women surveyed by USGBC concur. One survey respondent noted, “Women are a vital portion of the workforce. They often bring new viewpoints to male dominated fields. However, women shoulder the burden when children cannot go to school. Often, it is a woman who needs to take time off of work or quit their job to take care of kids or sick family.”
A Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed since February 2020, women account for 55 percent 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 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.
Organizations in the green building space and beyond have an opportunity to support women in a number of ways, from training leaders to be empathizers to ensuring underrepresented employees feel seen and heard, USGBC said in a press release.