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Working From Home Increases Gender Inequality

Rabat - Working from home, or at least a new hybrid form of work is likely here to stay. With remote work having helped businesses and employees navigate COVID-19 lockdowns and the ensuing needs for social distancing, more and more companies are now realizing that hybrid work might be more optimal.

The Economist reports that switching to a hybrid mode of working helps companies diversify their recruitment pool, as they can hire people regardless of their geographical location.  

A hybrid mode of working increases a company’s employee friendliness. Companies offering flexibility receive 30% more applications, according to The Economist.

This trend is even more apparent with women, with data indicating that as many as 80% of women surveyed said that flexibility is an important factor when considering a job. In addition, mothers were two times more likely than fathers to say that they would hand in their notice should their employer impose a strict work-from-office policy.

However, all existing reports and surveysindicate that women are more likely to choose to work from home, putting them at a disadvantage with their male counterparts in terms of promotions and salary raises.

Working from home has the potential to eradicate gender inequality. Employers can use equitable measures to evaluate workers, but data indicates remote work does not end gender problems.

Despite having a flexible work-from-home policy, companies have a predominantly in-person culture. According to global estimates, 42% of supervisors forget about remote employees when assigning tasks, and 67% believe remote employees are easily replaceable. 

The bias for employees in the office coupled with the fact that women are more likely to opt for remote work results in a work climate ripe with gender inequality, according to The Economist’s report. 

As bosses prefer employees working from offices, women are less likely to be on the receiving end of promotions and salary raises. Promotions and salaries aside, virtual meetings prove a major setback for gender equality, noted the report.

While women on average are more likely to report being interrupted during in-person meetings than men, it added, online meetings amplified this trend as more than half of women in a survey reported that it was difficult to contribute to discussions at all.

But, the report conceded, not all the blame can be put on the work culture in companies. The primary reason women prefer remote work is that they are more likely to engage in childcare and house chores at a higher rate than men. 

As large-scale remote work is relatively still in its infancy, assessing its long-term consequences on gender inequality is not an easy task. 

It’s not all bleak, however. Some companies are pioneering initiatives to address gender inequality in remote work by limiting virtual meetings unless they’re imperative, and as remote work becomes mainstream, companies will likely adapt existing gender-equality policies to become remote-work friendly.

Source: Morocco World News by Jihane Rahhou

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