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The state of women in the workplace

Women are leaving the workforce in record rates during the pandemic. What both employers and employees need to do to keep things on track.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — It is estimated that nearly 3 million women have been driven out of the workforce in the last year, and those left behind are feeling the strain.

“One in four women feel like they are not being utilized to their fullest potential,” says Elizabeth Hang with Robert Half.

The folks at Robert Half say a recent survey uncovered some troubling news. One in four women said they felt underutilized, forty-three percent felt underpaid, and a whopping 65% said they felt underappreciated. Those findings are a huge problem.

“It could be that they don't feel appreciated, that they will look elsewhere for a company that they feel like really values and empowers women,” says Hang.

And when it comes to being underpaid, Elizabeth Hang says, you need to speak up.

“You need to do your homework and you need to be really prepared for that conversation. What have you accomplished? What goals have you met? Where have you exceeded potential goals that were set in front of you?” says Hang. “Understand what your worth is in the marketplace. There are resources out there where you can look into salaries,” she adds.

And if you feel like you're being overlooked for opportunities, promotions or assignments, communicate that to leadership.

“Be proactive, be aware of what's going on around you, and don't be scared to ask for opportunities and stretch assignments,” says Hang.

But not all of this falls on the employee. Businesses need to change with what's happening in our world. They need to listen to what people need, or risk losing good talent.

“We need to continue to be really flexible on how and when we work, and what that looks like... that way it allows people to meet the demands of their career as well as their home life, which is super important,” says Hang.

She also advises companies to help carve out meaningful career paths for female employees and make sure they are being compensated fairly. 

And always keep lines of communication open.