There’s good news for women in the workplace, according to the Harvard Business Review. Through 2021 and 2022, the participation gap reduced to record low levels, indicating that more women than ever before have been supported to enter the workplace. This is good news – it reflects that there are jobs there to be done and that there are mechanisms in place to ensure that women can have fair participation. That being said, there remain systemic issues that disproportionately impact women, and key among these are disability rights.
Disability and fair treatment
Women are seeing their rights being proactively shrunk in the USA, with the rollback of abortion protections in many states key among those actions. As American Progress highlights, this challenge to reproductive health will do serious harm to women and, in the states involved, create difficulties in obtaining proper healthcare and, in the workplace, benefits such as disability leave and payments.
In states with strong labor protections, there are still many reasons why the authorities may refuse disability payment claims, including the presence of a conviction, a lack of responsiveness to communication, and a failure to follow treatment plans. In states where reproductive rights and healthcare protections are being rolled back, these risks are exacerbated. Being put on an unsure footing in that regard then leaks into the workplace; if you don’t have proper health protections, it can make maintaining a presence at work and doing good work difficult.
Microaggressions and judgment calls
Even where healthcare issues and support are put properly into place, there remain constant challenges to the judgment and skills of women, especially leaders, that put them at odds with the modern workplace. According to the World Economic Forum, this has led to 1 in 4 women leaders quitting their jobs within noted organizations.
What is seen as constructive criticism is not perceived as such for men and can create an unfair atmosphere. Until more is done to address these attitudes and ensure that women can feel safe and respected within their field of expertise, industries will continue to lose leaders.
True equality in the workplace must be intersectional, and yet, even as women gain some rights, the rights of ethnic minority women are left behind. According to the Brookings Institute, the advancement of women in the workplace has been done with the lagging behind of women of color, with black women, in particular, facing the same challenges as all other women but, often, to a greater degree. Once again, healthcare is an area of particular issue, with many black women not receiving the same rights and care as their peers.
While women participating in the labor force at high rates is excellent, it cannot be done without also addressing systemic issues facing those women. From healthcare to racial equality, more must be done by industry and its leaders to ensure that women are given a fair deal.
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