BUSINESSES in the North East are being urged to help give a true picture of how the pandemic is affecting gender equality in the workplace – such as the childcare pressures on women forced to take on the majority of home-schooling during lockdown.
Dr Stephen Burrell, a sociology researcher at Durham University, has joined forces with Bishop-Auckland-based arts education company, Changing Relations, to see how issues such as childcare challenges, pressures on mental health, and increased levels of domestic violence during the pandemic are impacting the workplace.
Dr Burrell, who is part of the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse at Durham University, said: “The Covid 19 crisis is both intensifying and being worsened by existing inequalities in society. This is certainly true in relation to gender, where we’ve seen a number of significant issues arise since the pandemic began, from the exacerbation of violence and abuse in the home, to a massive increase in caring responsibilities falling largely on women, to women’s jobs been disproportionately impacted by the economic fallout of Covid-19.
“Meanwhile, men have been dying in particularly high numbers, and may also be struggling to reach out for support if experiencing loneliness or other mental health issues.
“We’re keen to find out how these gender issues are playing out for businesses and workplaces and would urge businesses in the North East to fill out the survey to find out their views.”
During the first lockdown, the charity Refuge saw a 66 per cent rise in calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, while The Fawcett Society found that more than a third of working mothers had lost work or hours due to lack of childcare during the pandemic.
Lisa Charlotte Davis, managing director of Changing Relations, which delivers arts-based training to transform thinking around gender stereotypes and relationships, said: “As we re-enter a national lockdown, with primary and secondary schools closed, we return once again to a situation where persisting gender inequalities are magnified, with women likely to bear the brunt of childcare and home schooling. This isn’t just a family matter. What will it mean for women’s productivity, workplace progression, opportunities and pay?
“It’s vital we find out more about the extent to which business and organisations in the North East are addressing gender equality issues in the workplace, and how these have been affected by the Covid 19 pandemic.
“If we know the crunch points, we’ll be better placed to support businesses to develop more inclusive and, ultimately, more productive environments.”
The organisation is working with Dr Burrell to carry out a survey among businesses to gain a wide picture of how they are addressing gender equality, particularly since the pandemic began. The deadline is January 20.
For more information and to complete the survey, go to: http://bit.ly/3biEoeo
The results of the survey will be discussed in a webinar later this year