Exacerbating existing workplace inequalities in the UK, new data from LinkedIn has revealed women over the age of 30, and people working in jobs that typically do not require a university degree, have had a tougher time starting new jobs since the start of the pandemic.
The hiring rate for women over 30 reportedly sank to its lowest point in May 2020 during the first lockdown amidst school closures and picked up significantly once schools reopened in September.
In May 65% of men applying for jobs were hired, compared to 35% of women.
In September, once the schools had opened again, the rate of hiring increased to 45% for women.
Janine Chamberlin, senior director at LinkedIn, said that this trend threatens to send society backwards in its pursuit of equality if employers don’t respond quickly.
She said: “If employers act now, they will have access to a breadth of diverse talent which can bring fresh thinking to their businesses, while also ensuring a fair recovery.
“Giving people the opportunity to develop new skills or retrain entirely, regardless of their background, and offering women and working parents the flexibility they need to manage their work and family commitments is crucial to building diverse workforces where everyone has opportunity and can thrive.”
A decrease in hiring rates for industries that typically employ a high proportion of women has further magnified the problem.
In October 2020 the hiring in recreation and travel was down 43% and retail was down 20% year-on-year.
As a prior report from the Work Foundation found, gender inequality in retail roles has put women’s livelihoods at risk as the sector navigates its coronavirus recovery.
The study reported that women are particularly at risk of job displacement in the future as retail work is moving out of stores and into warehouses and logistics centres.
Women’s share of overall hiring hit its lowest point in April for retail and in May for recreation and travel, further underlining the impact of school closures on job prospects.
Richard Lim, CEO of industry analysts Retail Economics, said: “For many retailers, the immediate challenge is cutting costs, preserving working capital and trading through Christmas to strengthen balance sheets.”
Lim said that a cut back on employment due to cost and uncertainty was understandable for businesses trying to survive the recession.
She added: “With a greater proportion of shopping moving online and vacancy rates on our high streets expected to rise further, it’s inevitable that there will be fewer retail jobs in the future, but those that remain are likely to be more skilled and higher paid."