(BPT) - Even though women make up nearly 51% of the world's population, there is still a way to go when it comes to full, fair and equitable treatment.
As part of International Women's Day and Women's History Month, Mars, Incorporated, a global, privately held and family-owned company with a diverse and expanding portfolio of confectionery, food, and pet care products and services, is looking for ways to create more equitable communities in and out of the workplace by asking what is needed to help more women reach their full potential.
'Increasingly business is being called upon to make a lasting, positive impact on society. In that spirit, Mars wants to hear from diverse voices - women around the world and men who champion progress - on what needs to change in order for women to reach their full potential,' said Jessica Adelman, vice president corporate affairs, Mars North America.
Here are a few of the outside factors that serve as barriers to women and how companies everywhere can help solve the issue, because we all have a role in creating a better world tomorrow.
For mothers, childcare is expensive
According to a recent report, it costs on average $16,000 annually to raise a child in the United States. Some states are more expensive than others. But in many cases, that amount is more than annual tuitions at flagship universities. And for women who decide to leave the workforce to care for their children, those annual costs can create extra burdens long-term.
How can employers help? Employers who can afford to should consider childcare subsidies for working parents, or provide back-up care resources. These options can allow women to stay in the workforce and provide for their children, or elderly relatives, without unnecessary sacrifice.
When it comes to parental leave, Denmark is known for having some of the best child care policies in the world. In Denmark, women can get a total of 18 weeks paid maternity leave. Four weeks before the baby is born and 14 weeks after. Parents split 32 additional weeks of leave after that.
Work schedules can be restrictive
With countless professionals working from home, many have realized the traditional 9-5 isn't feasible while balancing other responsibilities. That's especially true for women, who take on the lion's share of caregiving work inside the home. Not only are they trying to keep up with work-related duties, but they're also more likely to take responsibility in caring for children or supporting aging parents. The burden is even more significant for single working mothers.
To combat this, employers can offer flexible work schedules. A flexible schedule can allow women to tend to the needs of themselves and their family while allowing them to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
Our collective mental health is taking a hit due to the pandemic
Lots has been written a year into a global pandemic about how women are reporting significantly higher levels of psychological distress due to the burdens and societal expectations placed on them, especially during times like these.
Employers need to understand the mental toll the pandemic is taking, not only on women, but on all of their employees, and find ways to help them cope. Whether that's through free or discounted therapy sessions, yoga classes or family leave, there's a lot they can do. In the U.S. Mars adapted its previously in-person employee well-being moments such as stretch breaks and fitness classes to a virtual format, offering a way for employees to connect with each other virtually, support their mind and body, and invite more employees than before to join in without the limit of a physical room.
Finding solutions requires working together
The pandemic has created fear and uncertainty for people around the world. However, it has also shed light on the daily struggles of women and given them a voice to fight for more fair and equitable treatment in the workplace and beyond.
Mars is one of the many companies joining in the fight for workplace and societal equality for all women. That's why the company is using its voice to stand up not just for its employees, but for all women around the globe. However, this requires collective input. People need to share their stories and raise their voices if society is to create strong and thriving communities not just for women, but for everyone around the world.