We saw a historic number of women leave the workforce during COVID causing a severe deficit when it comes to female talent. Smart companies will scramble to make up for this shortfall in 2021 and beyond. After all, the more diverse the company, the more innovative and successful it will be. And women are a vital part of that diversity.

In order to fix this problem, it’s important for businesses to begin by analyzing the reasons why so many women left in the first place. For starters, women were more impacted by layoffs and furloughs, while others left voluntarily due to work-life balance conflicts, the gender wage gap, and a lack of opportunities or overall job satisfaction.

As we move forward, organizations must look for clever ways to right these wrongs, and attract women back to their talent pools by adding new initiatives and incentives to further those aims. Some ideas include returnship programs (easing women back in a little at a time), reskilling, mentorship, plans that decrease the gender wage gap, remote work options, childcare stipends and offerings, job sharing, flexible schedules, part-time positions and more.

Businesses will also need to recruit women where they are more apt to find listings for open positions, and keep in mind that women are most likely to apply at organizations that support women. It will also be important to consider the fact that women will only go after jobs when they feel that they are completely qualified (women often have a need to be perfect or close to it before putting themselves out there). It will therefore be critical for companies to tailor their ad language to showcase diversity initiatives and work-life balance offerings, as well as to include verbiage that makes women feel confident when applying for positions. The more women apply, the more likely they will be interviewed and hired (a win for everyone).

We’ll also continue to see women turn towards entrepreneurship as another lucrative career option as we climb out from the clutch of the pandemic. Starting their own businesses can be a wise choice for many women as it enables them to have the greatest control over their careers, schedules, livelihoods and lives. That balance is exactly what professional women crave and can also lead to their greatest overall satisfaction.

As you can see, it will take some work from organizations to better support women as we emerge from the pandemic. And, at the same time, many women will turn towards supporting themselves (through entrepreneurship). Either way, let’s hope that many of the negative trends for women will be reversed as we move towards what’s next in our ever- changing world.

Charlene Walters is a business and branding mentor, entrepreneurship coach, corporate trainer, and the author of Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur.


  • Charlene Walters, MBA, PhD

    Author, Corporate Trainer, Business Mentor, Consultant

    Charlene Walters, MBA, PhD, LLC

    Charlene Walters, MBA, PhD is business mentor, higher education and writing consultant, corporate trainer (Charlene Walters, MBA, PhD, LLC) and author of Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur (McGraw Hill). She is also the host of Launch, a TV show which streams on Amazon Fire, AppleTV and Roku (D B TV), and an expert on Quora's Business, Education and Society spaces. Additionally, Charlene teaches business and entrepreneurship courses at UCONN and the University of Alaska, was selected as one of 150 Marketers to Follow by Rubicly, and is featured among other CEOs, influencers and celebrities on the BAM Network.