We need women at the table even if there are enough white men to fill the seats

by Julie Graber | on 29 Oct 2020

By now, the pandemic should have stripped us bare of any blinders that still existed about the struggles women face on a daily basis when it comes to juggling a career and managing their families. 

The coverage of the pandemic’s impact on women has been long on details but short on solutions. Most articles discuss the need for more flexibility with work without delving into specifics. Remote working has been the stop-gap strategy, but for women, it only has only made matters worse (besides being impossible for many women whose jobs can only be performed outside of the home). Before the pandemic, there was at least some separation between work and home - some ability to focus on one thing at a time. With schools closed and daycares serving essential workers only, it is all now centered at home, where most moms operate as the CEO. 

The consequence: women who can are dropping out of the workforce at unprecedented levels - 865,000 in September alone.

Let me bottom-line it for you: we cannot afford to let these women walk out the door. It doesn’t matter if there are enough white men to fill the seats, there still need to be women at the table. We know it leads to better solutions, more creative problem solving, and more innovative strategies. Couldn’t we use a little bit of that right now?

Lest you believe otherwise, let me give you one glaring example of what happens when women are missing.

A year prior to the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that devastated the Gulf of Mexico, Avivah Wittenberg-Cox documented the mass exodus of women from the ranks of BP, calling it the "female brain drain." Seven top women left the company after Tony Hayward took over as CEO in 2007.

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Oil Rig exploded. Eleven workers were never found. Nearly 5 million barrels of oil were spilled into the gulf before the well was sealed in September of that same year. The environmental impact of what is considered one of the worst environmental disasters in history is still be documented ten years later.

On January 5, 2011, the White House Oil Spill Commission released a final report detailing faults by the companies that led to the spill. What did it conclude?

“Better management of decision-making processes within BP and other companies, better communication within and between BP and its contractors and effective training of key engineering and rig personnel would have prevented the Macondo incident.”

Better decision-making, communications and more effective training? Doesn’t that sounds like a job for a woman?