New MHCC resource aims to support women sidelined from the workforce
Even before the onset of COVID-19, statistics told a story of a persistent unequal division of labour, with women shouldering more unpaid housework and caregiving responsibilities than men.
As quarantine measures began, the toll on women only deepened — both at home and at work. One recent study found that mothers were more than twice as likely as fathers to be worried that their work performance was being judged negatively because of caregiving responsibilities.
“The statistics are stark — yet not surprising if we look at the context,” said Louise Bradley, the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s (MHCC’s) president and CEO. “Not only am I concerned about losing — literally overnight — the hard-won progress toward equality that was gained over decades, I am also worried about the mental wellness of women who are being asked to make an impossible choice.”
According to a recent national survey, one-third of working women have thought about quitting their jobs because they are juggling home-schooling, homemaking, parenting, and professional responsibilities.
For those who do leave their jobs, re-entering the workforce can lead to a fruitless game of catch-up.
A new resource
When it’s time to go back into the working world, women are confronted with emotional and practical challenges that their male counterparts rarely have to consider. To assist employers who wish to support women employees in making a strong return to the workforce — while keeping mental health front and centre — the MHCC has created a new resource.
The recommendations emphasize the importance of things like flexibility, workload management, and empathy, regardless of the reason for needing time off.
“Few workplace resources account for the unique challenges faced by women, and that’s a problem,” said Tiana Field-Ridley, an MHCC implementation specialist on the Workplace