Push for flexibility intensifies as millions of US women leave workforce

Pandemic forces parents to juggle child care, teaching and work

Push for flexibility intensifies as millions of women leave workforce

The coronavirus pandemic has brought on an alarming trend in the U.S.: Women are leaving the workforce by the millions.

American women are calling for more flexibility in the workplace as the pandemic has made conditions difficult for those who are working while simultaneously raising children.

“As much as I love being a mom, I just know that I’m a better mom when I have a career for myself,” said Jen Fox, 32.

Like most working mothers, Fox loves her career and she loves her children, but finding the balance between the two can be difficult. For many women, the pandemic has taken that work-life balance away: Mothers with school-aged children now have to juggle child care, teaching and work.

In response, the latest federal numbers show that three million women left the workforce over the past year due to the pandemic.

“In our country, women predominantly are caregivers,” said Peter Quigley, CEO of Kelly Services. “The burden has fallen on women, and many have left the workforce because of that choice.”

Quigley says he has not experienced women leaving Kelly Services, a national staffing agency, in droves because the company offers flexibility such as allowing employees to work from home for “flex” their hours.

As a social media manager for Kelly Services, Fox says the flexibility offered by her company is the reason she still works for them.

“What surprises me is that more employers haven’t adapted, haven’t provided support or flexibility that working moms need in order to stay,” Fox said.

Because Quigley provides employees to employers, he has been having this conversation with other business leaders. He says that the data undoubtedly shows that women have been leaving the workforce in far greater numbers than men. However, he also says that men who are single parents are experiencing similar struggles as women who are juggling parenthood with a career.

Both Quigley and Fox say that employers need to listen to the needs of their employees in order for both of them to be successful.

Watch the full report in the video above.

Related: Voices of a Nation: Why so many women are leaving the workforce (Oct. 2020)

About the Author:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.