In honor of Women’s History Month, Campaign US is checking in with women across the industry, from all career levels, on how they’ve navigated the past year personally and professionally.
This interview with Soyoung Kang, chief marketing officer of eos Products, has been lightly edited.
What has the past year been like for you personally?
A roller coaster ride. There are moments when I stress out about remote schooling, or I mourn my kids, who lost a year of childhood. Other moments I feel sheer joy and deep gratitude to have spent so much time together as a family.
How have you managed through isolation, burnout and other challenges of the past year? What strategies have you used to balance work and home life?
Honestly, it’s been tough to balance work life and home life when all the lines have been completely obliterated.
My family eats every meal together — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — and that keeps us grounded. We never did that before. It’s been one of the unexpected, treasured gifts of this year. I block out my calendar, just as I would with any important meeting. I’m so grateful to be in a job where I can do that.
What can we do in our industry about the current crisis of women leaving the workforce?
It’s really an economics problem. Once it’s economically more viable for women to stay in the workforce, they’ll stay. That means more jobs, with more security and commensurate pay and seniority.
Our industry, like every other, can do its part. Every individual in our industry who makes a hiring or spending decision can choose to do so with that vision in mind.
What progress has the industry made in achieving gender parity? What still needs to be done?
I think we all know that there’s still a lot of work to be done, and that this pandemic has set the cause even further back. I’d love to be able to point to gains we’ve made. But when the World Economic Forum still estimates that the U.S. is 151 years away from gender equality, it feels like a hollow victory.
We still need to achieve equal representation at all levels, including the C-suite and the boardroom; we still need to ensure there’s pay equity for women; and, without a doubt, we still need to include women of color to achieve full parity.
What work can still be done to address the disproportionate impact this crisis has on BIPOC women?
Throughout history, crises have disproportionately hurt marginalized and at risk groups. BIPOC women have experienced more job loss during this pandemic than any other community. Reports show much higher than average unemployment among women of color, compared to lower than average rates for white men and women.
So whatever you’re doing to hire, retain and support your workforce, double down on those tactics for BIPOC women. Create support systems and mentorship opportunities, prioritize hiring BIPOC in open roles, and be flexible for scheduling and workload management.
How can the industry support women in the workforce during this stressful time?
A BCG study last year proved women were taking on more of the burdens of home life while trying to balance working and school from home. Our lives are like icebergs these days; there’s the bit that shows above the surface and the massive depth hidden below, like household chores and family needs and general anxiety and fear.
The toll that can take on our mental health is enormous. As managers and teammates, we need to be mindful of what’s hidden from our view. That may mean more flexibility around timelines and deliverables, or encouraging time off.
Women in the workforce contribute trillions to our economy, so this is well worth fighting for.