We must all be carers, not just the women!

During the uncertainty that this global pandemic presents, we must remember that hard work, dedication and passion will prevail, but key is compassion and that is what we women do best, we care.
 
As a businesswoman myself, with a family at home, an expectant daughter and responsibility for my team at Women in Business to consider in my decision making, I know it is crucial now more than ever, that we all support and care for each other.
 
Recently our member Edel Doherty, CEO & Founder of the award winning Beyond Business Travel and WIB 2019 Businesswoman of the Year, a truly inspirational female entrepreneur, called to share the sad news that she had to lay-off half of her brilliant team.  Just a few weeks ago, Beyond Business Travel was a very strong growing business with a healthy sales pipeline and a highly engaged team, helping clients export around the world. The sad fact is that this will not be the last we hear of successful businesses beginning to struggle in the midst of this chaos, yet Edel’s ask was not for herself but how she could help her staff.
 
So, I stand with Edel, and call on our Executive to stand up and take action, to do everything in its power to help and care for everyone. There is no doubt that Stormont is working to ease the strain on businesses and importantly employees during this global crisis, but they must do more… and keep doing more.  We have daily announcements about unemployment and businesses closing – who is looking after these people, their mortgages, cars, loans, families etc.  We need to re-evaluate how we are allocating funds.
 
Small businesses are the life blood of our economy and government must remember that they don’t all pay rates. Where is the support for the child minder, executive coach, trainer, dog walker, taxi driver, events company, wedding planner or tour guide and the many other self-employed people who work from home? It is time for our government to demonstrate real understanding and caring and to ensure they help ALL businesses, all people. We are in the middle of a crisis; we need a blanket financial solution.
 
They must also be cognisant of the potential negative impact, due to the coronavirus crisis, on women’s careers and businesses if care, of the elderly and children, is not shared equally. We may think that we live in a reasonably gendered society, however, there is no doubt that women still bear much of the responsibility for caregiving, it is important we do not go backwards on the road to diversity.
 
We know from reports that women currently do three-times as much unpaid caregiving and domestic work as their male counterparts; unfortunately, this number will begin to multiply dramatically as women will be required to care for children and relatives. With the recent closure of NI schools, the challenge to balance business and caregiving is more prevalent than ever before.
 
There is also impending worry from health experts that women, who hold the majority of roles in nursing and care giving, are at a disproportionate risk in comparison to their male counterparts, both physically and financially. Almost 70 percent of health care workers around the world are women. These women are on the frontline of this crisis daily, and with schools closing, men should recognise the severe potential impact of this and, in doing so, expect to take on a more hands-on and practical caregiving role.
 
Women also make up a huge proportion of part-time and informal workers across the world, the types of jobs that will sadly be the first to go as the economy and businesses continue to take a tumble. As a business community, we need to remain strong and continue to be consistent and present in order to support gender diversity.
 
To all my fellow businesswomen, from CEOs to sole traders, let’s do what we do best and support each other. And to all my fellow businessmen, in the interests of our future diverse economy and society, in the interests of equality, support the carers!