The global pandemic hit us all hard in March 2020, changing our lives drastically in the process. Many of us were forced to work remotely, or cease work altogether, in order to avoid infection, and to comply with social distancing orders. The end result was extremely isolating and incredibly anxiety-producing for people around the world, but recent studies suggest that women were perhaps hit the hardest.
THE PANDEMIC HAS DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED WOMEN IN THE WORKFORCE
The implications of the pandemic have affected women disproportionately: Around 2.2 million women left the workforce between February and October 2020, and a staggering 50% of women of color plan to leave their jobs in the next two years.
On top of this workplace crisis, many women are also faced with the bulk of the responsibility for having to care for children who are learning remotely.
In a story for the University of Southern California, María Prados, a research scientist at USC Dornsife’s Center for Economic and Social Research, explains “Women carry an increasingly heavier load than men when it comes to providing child care and educational support for their children during this pandemic, even while working.”
HOW DO WE CHANGE THIS SITUATION?
These numbers and cultural dynamic are extremely troubling to anyone who’s paying attention. However, Melissa Dawn Simkins, the CEO and founder of The She-Suite, a leadership and lifestyle platform where women define success on their own terms, says that these dynamics can improve by empowering women to “live leadership as lifestyle.”
“Leadership as a lifestyle means that we acknowledge that women have to lead a blended life that equally honors work and well-being. COVID has taught us that they are both critical to our lives. Every woman needs a method and a roadmap to help her confidently take on the challenges of her career and life goals with purpose and a plan to make it work as a lifestyle,” explains Simkins.
It’s important to keep in mind that many working women also have a family at home to take care of, which can add significantly to their stress levels. It’s essential for women to have a roadmap so that they can practice sufficient self-care while also maintaining excellence in their personal and professional lives.
Simkins regularly contributes to Inc Magazine, and she consistently appears on CNN, CNBC, HLN, Essence, and Black Enterprise. She is also a proud wife and mother. She’s proof that women can do it all and not only survive, but thrive.
ADJUSTING TO THE WORLD WE LIVE IN
People around the world have had to adjust their lifestyles, their schedules, and their expectations in response to COVID-19, and women are no exception. This is something Melissa Dawn Simkins has experienced first-hand, as the mastermind behind the annual She-Suite Summit. While she usually hosts this event in person, she found herself at a crossroads before the 2020 summit. When she learned about the reality of COVID-19, she could have easily thrown in the towel, but instead she refused to give up. Simkins and her team reorganized the entire event in less than 38 hours and attracted enthusiastic members from around the world.
The moral of the story here is that living leadership as a lifestyle can serve women in both their personal and professional domains.
As women, it can be difficult to say no or ask for a promotion, but embracing our strengths and having the courage to let our lights shine is essential to our success. We must remember that “No,” is a complete sentence: We don’t need to follow it up with any excuses. We’re allowed to take time off for rejuvenation when we need to.
Women can do it all; we just need to learn how to take care of ourselves and ask for what we need in the process.
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