The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report documented a worldwide economic gulf between men and women that, at the current rate of progress, will take another 257 years to correct. A big reason for the gap: unpaid domestic work, including childcare. Even in the United States, women spend almost twice as much time as men on unpaid domestic work, and this holds women back in their jobs that pay.

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed this truth in spades. Women not only lost more jobs during the pandemic than men, many were forced to cut back or quit working altogether due to a lack of childcare.[1]

Yet, economists agree that production and spending won’t fully recover from the pandemic unless women are fully participating. To attract female talent back to your workplace, consider these changes:

1. Make flexible work schedules readily available

While not all professions allow for such arrangements, for those that can, flexible schedules can enable moms and dads to manage their responsibilities at both work and at home without having to give up one or the other.

2. Offer mentorship programs

Formal and informal mentoring programs can offer hope and a roadmap for advancement to women who are weighing the financial pros and cons of returning to the workforce. Creating a council or network that focuses on female inclusion in your workplace can create a community of support for your female employees that they may be missing if they’re home alone.

3. Provide scholarship opportunities

Supporting continuing education is another way to tip the economic scale for women. Whether through in-office courses and training or through scholarships or tuition reimbursement, the promise of continued education for women can help them advance.

4. Curate extracurricular offers that speak to women

Besides flexible schedules and opportunities for advancement, creative benefits like discounted gym memberships, in-office childcare or an errand concierge may make coming back to work an attractive choice.