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Research: Something's Gotta Give

COVID-19 Could Rapidly Expand Family-Leave Policies. It Could Also Deal A Serious Blow To Women In The Workforce.

S&P Global, in partnership with AARP, examined Corporate America’s family leave policies to understand the relationship between family-friendly benefits and female representation in the workforce and senior management. The research is based on the results of an S&P Global/AARP survey of 1,573 individuals—51% men and 49% women—who work for a firm with more than 1,000 employees. The survey was fielded between Aug. 20 and Sept. 8, 2020.

The research utilized gender and equality data from Equileap, which covers nearly 1,400 U.S. publicly-listed companies across 11 sectors, and SAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment data, an annual evaluation of more than 7,300 companies' sustainability practices across the globe, to measure correlations between certain policies and female representation in the workforce and senior management. The research also relies heavily on interviews of executives across corporate America about the benefits they have received and utilized, and their experiences in the workforce.

For employees worldwide, the coronavirus crisis is causing a clash of professional and personal responsibilities, and presents an urgent question for companies that want to retain their talent: How do you create policies that allow employees to balance career and family—both during a pandemic and beyond?

Key Takeaways

  • Companies with revenue over $1B are more likely to offer paid parental leave (58% of large companies vs. 42% of smaller companies) and flexible work schedules (43% of large corporations vs. 38% of smaller companies).

  • Only 10% of companies offer 14 weeks or more of at least two-thirds paid primary care leave and just 19% offer a minimum of two weeks of paid secondary care leave (defined as the person who is not leading childcare duties).

  • Since their commitments have grown, more than 30% of family caregivers are experiencing a strong increase in stress due to the pandemic's impact on their work-life responsibilities. Nearly 43% of respondents reported a moderate increase in stress.

  • Regardless of leave offered, on average, senior managers take far less time for parental or family care than more junior employees. Just 23% of senior managers took more than four weeks of leave, versus about 30% of more junior staff.

  • A far greater number of younger caregivers felt their caregiving responsibilities led them to being penalized at work: 63% of caregivers aged 18 to 24, compared to 45% of those aged 35 to 54 and just 14% of those 55 or older.


How COVID-19 is Forcing Big Changes for Parents and Family Caregivers

This special episode of ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast about environmental, social, and governance issues, explores how corporate America is responding to COVID-19 with new policies for employees caring for children and elderly relatives. S&P Global partnered with AARP to research how leave policies are evolving in the U.S. private sector and the potential impact on women in the workforce. In the episode, we unpack the research, which found that the pace of change in leave policies has accelerated rapidly amid the pandemic.

Listen and subscribe to ESG Insider:

— Apple Podcasts

— Spotify

— Soundcloud

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