Downsizing, layoffs, letting go, no matter you call it, it sucks. Due to COVID-19, 54 million Americans were let go in the past 19 weeks. Women have been disproportionately affected, based on the rise of unequal expectations at home and work, making up 55% of the layoffs. The climbing numbers, mounting anxiety and lack of clarity only adds to this challenge point – we simply do not know what comes next.
The Bottom Line for Employers
Laying off long-time, loyal and valuable employees is painful. It breaks a bond and leaves both sides of the equation searching for a way to do better.
What is sorely needed is a solution where both parties are receiving value regardless of ending the employment agreement. Employers need better tools to honorably on and off-ramp female talent, while the talent needs a step-by-step path to find her next role.
Authenticity via Softened Landings
Most employers come to the downsizing conversation with positive intentions offering encouragement as well as references, network access and the like that offer support which comes from the very best places. Still, these are words not actions.
What about access for upskilling, confidence training, networking and a thriving job marketplace for women? This creates a realistic, sequential path forward, leaving both the employer and the former employee able to break with dignity.
Support through the good times and bad
Today employment may look doom and gloom, but we know it won’t last forever. And neither will the intense period of layoffs. Once you’re ready to staff back up, how gratifying would it be to have access to your brand loyal past employees as well as a growing talent pool of vetted, certified women?
In the meantime, the female employees that you part with receive a “landing plan” within their exit package providing access to:
- Collection of courses in technology, tools, remote work, project management and more
- Workshops and resources on career planning, goal-setting and confidence-building
- Network of like-minded women
- Job pool that specificalizes in flexible, female-friendly roles
Take-aways to set you on your way
- Gender diversity is not a nice-to-have, it is the key to profitability. Firms with 30% women tout 15% more profit than the average firm. In order to achieve this, employers need women in their talent pipeline. But how do employers maintain while going through layoffs?
- Layoffs aren’t an indication of a good or bad employer, it’s the reality of the times. What is an indication and what will be remembered is how employers support their women staff post-layoff.
- If you are to give women the resources that they need to land on their feet, once business is booming, what demographic will be chomping at the bit to get re-hired? Women. Why is that? Quite frankly, the bar for female-specific benefits is low.
- Instead of trumpeting team happy hours, ping-pong tables and beer on tap, take action during the time when women need you most. Providing women thoughtful, effective resources during a layoff, will pay out dividends in brand loyalty, talent pipeline and the bottom line.
Ashley Connell, CEO and Founder of Prowess, is one part fearless entrepreneur, one part fearless women’s advocate. For the first 15 years of her career, she was an award-winning tech marketer in both Austin and London. Ashley’s unstoppable drive to have both a career and time for family motivated her to start Prowess.
Prowess is a way to source female talent and set them up for success if employers must let them go. Conceived and quickly coveted during the low unemployment rate (it is hard to imagine, but this was as recent as February, 2020) Prowess has now found its way to being a powerful exit gesture that works for all involved.
Prowess arms employers with a “landing plan” when parting with female employees. Within their exit packages, employers fund memberships to Prowess’ community providing access to upskilling, confidence-training, a network and job pool of flexible, female-friendly roles. When staffing back up, employers have access to Prowess’ growing community of female job-seekers.
Ashley’s commitment to changing the lives of overloaded employers, women seeking rewarding work, and those affected by the gender pay gap, has landed her thought leadership pieces in Forbes, Built in Austin and at SXSW. In her pretty much non-existent spare time she enjoys yoga, walks with her bulldog, cheering on her beloved Longhorns, and spaghetti and meatballs.