Highlight Women and Burnout
Following Jacinda Arden’s resignation, she is shining a light on a global trend around women and burnout
Jacinda Arden’s emotional resignation speech last week hit a chord with many women across the world. In telling us all that she didn’t have “enough in the tank” to do her job properly, she was sending a clear message that she had reached her limit.
Jacinda Arden has done women many favours over the years. Not just in her role as an inspirational leader but in the way she has demonstrated that taking care of herself and her nearest and dearest is a great priority and should not diminish her achievements. She has shown that handing over a responsible position to someone else is infinitely preferable to carrying on until she crashes and burns. Now she is shining a light on a global trend around women and burnout
She is also teaching us to let go of the idea that rest is a reward which can be deferred until we deserve it, not something vital we should do to survive.
Resilience in many circles can be seen as a badge of honour. Like any other quality, resilience has a role to reach optimum performance, overcoming challenges or dealing with crisis situations. After which it can have downsides which can have serious consequences for the individual themselves and the people around them.
I currently talk to at least one woman a week who says that she has “had enough” and they are on the verge of burnout. These are not isolated incidents, but part of a wider trend where women everywhere, are now openly saying the system is not working for them. Articles have been written about women and burnout when they leave professions such as H.R. which is heavily female-dominated.
Consulting companies carry out surveys and share that retention of female executives is at risk because they are not just carrying their own workload but the additional responsibilities of looking after their teams.
Workplace crisis in the wings
There are many factors that contribute to women and burnout which will result in a crisis for many companies.
1. Workplace discrimination
The gender pay gap sits at 13% in the E.U. but goes up to 30% in some sectors. The glass ceiling in terms of pay and promotion opportunities is very real with very few women occupying senior positions, especially in Fortune 500 companies. The figure is better for SMEs where women make up 24% of CEOs and MDs
2. Sexism and harassment.
Women suffer from biases in every part of their daily lives which includes the workplace. Driven by outdated stereotypes around gender expectations and gender hierarchy, they experience microaggressions that demean and diminish them and serves to keep them in their place.
Research from JUMP reports the following experiences from women.
- Sexist jokes (83%),
- Inappropriate remarks (71%),
- Insults (24%),
- Whistling (9%)
- Physical attacks (9%).
How to deal with sexism and harassment in the workplace – 3 Plus International
3. Lack of recognition and actionable feedback
Research from Textio suggests that women receive 22% more feedback about their personalities than men. A man might be described as bold, but a woman as pushy. Women are hysterical, but men are passionate. Men are also likely to be given more actionable feedback which they can integrate into a practical career plan.
This eventually impacts promotion prospects, career progression, and ultimately salary. Language matters.
4. Invisible office work
Women take on more non-promotable tasks such as E.R.G. activities, planning social events, and mentoring junior employees than their male colleagues.
5. Sexism at home
Women often take on more than their fair share of responsibilities at home than their male counterparts. During the global pandemic, we saw the unequal distribution of childcare and domestic responsibilities with women assuming 29% more of the workload than men. This is something that they need to look at with their partners including managing the mental load of running a family and household (birthdays, play dates, dentist appointents and so on).
6. Harassment in the Workplace
Specifcally her workplace and that is the political arena. A new study has shown that 9 out of 10 hateful articles have targeted Jacinda Ardern.
An online hate tracker found Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was the target of 93 percent of toxic posts against seven high profile politicians and officials, with a total of 5438 abusive messages.
University of Auckland researchers analysed the internet for posts mentioning Ardern. Senior lecturer in politics and international relations, Chris Wilson, said Ardern was “overwhelmingly the target both of all posts, and of those deemed hateful or toxic.”
Research conducted by Amnesty International revealed that women in politics are 27 times more likely to face abuse online than their male counterparts which discourages women from participating in the political system leaving women underrepresented.
Women are expected to submerge themselves and subjugate their own needs to take care of others both in the workplace and at home. Whole economies across the globe function on the basis of women providing unpaid, underpaid, and undervalued work. What is striking is their willingness to do all of that with only minimal complaint until they have had enough.
When women occupy public roles they recieve unprecedented abuse and hate attacks.
We are told to put our hands up. But if we do, the feedback is “ no… not like that, that’s too pushy.”
if we take time out for self-care we are denigrated for trying to “have it all” whatever that even means.
We have to improve women’s experience of the workplace and stop calling sexism, sexual harassment and bullying “non-inclusive” behaviours. They are workplace traumas.
And we shouldn’t have to wait until we are in crisis to give ourselves a priority. Jacinda Ardern has done women a favour in speaking up.
Self-care is not selfish.