It’s been a tough year for many women. The pandemic exposed how much support working women can use–and how shockingly little most receive. COVID-19 has sparked a “she-cession,” driving nearly three-million women out of the labor force. And roughly one in four are considering quitting or downshifting. Even those dedicated to staying at work are paying the price. A new Stanford University study found that endless Zoom calls amplify longstanding gender dynamics and drive fatigue and exhaustion for women.

This situation has led to Prophet renewing its commitment to elevating women’s voices and finding new ways to build allyship with our colleagues, clients and communities. And we have reexamined what it means to support women at the firm.

Prophet Initiatives to Better Support Women

Over the past year, we’ve made several moves to provide better support to the women of Prophet. From fueling open discussions about the pandemic and social unrest to welcoming honesty and vulnerability – we’re creating a workplace that women can feel supported while reckoning with the emotional intensity of these events. Ways we’ve advanced our cause in the past year include:

Finding Flexible Forums

For decades, women have struggled to elevate their voices in large meetings. Video calls can make being heard even more difficult as it is hard to read body language and easy for users to get lost in the sea of squares. We’ve acknowledged this reality and have encouraged teams to take “pauses,” moments for women to speak, weigh-in, and have their voices heard.

We’ve established new virtual forums. Our weekly firm-wide “Pulse calls” bring our global community together, while smaller breakouts allow the space for everyone to share and contribute their thoughts. We’ve introduced one-on-one meetings through our Women in Leadership Mentorship network and small-group sessions to discuss and share around specific events, such as the recent targeted murders of Asian women in Atlanta.

Building Better Boundaries

Workplace disruption related to COVID-19 has created a burnout problem. A CNBC survey found that 65% of women believe work stress has worsened and more than half feel burned out. Lean In’s research shows women feel this exhaustion at up to twice the level as men.

As remote work blurs the lines between our professional and personal worlds, Prophet’s leadership team has tried to help build boundaries between the two. These are some of the ways we’ve offered support:

  • For the last several months, Prophet’s offices have closed on the last Friday of the month to provide employees with a dedicated time to rest, recharge and take a break – without having to return to a full inbox of items to respond to.
  • We’ve offered benefits that provide meaningful relief to parents, including a dependent care assistance program for households with children ages 0-13.
  • We’re improving parenting-specific policies, including offering more paid leave for parents.
  • And we’ve invited health and wellness experts to speak to our people on topics from setting boundaries to managing the challenges of remote education.

Unleashing Shared Passions

Despite spending the year physically apart, we’ve seen a surge in community building. Propheteers have demonstrated their care for listening, learning, and taking action through their participation as a member or ally to the firm’s employee resource groups like Women in Leadership, Pride at Prophet, Black@Prophet and Latinos at Prophet.

These groups have allowed our people to speak up and share what’s on their minds (both personally and professionally), educate peers on topics of passion, and reflect on recent events in the news. And these communities have created opportunities for associates at all levels to take on leadership roles and elevate their voices.

Some of these topics and discussions can be heavy, so we’ve looked for ways to brighten our days too. We started our first-ever Music League, which connects Propheteers through a shared passion for music, specifically the tracks that celebrate the different identities that make up our firm. For example, over Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March, Propheteers around the world submitted their favorite songs to playlists like “All the Singing Ladies,” “Motown Classics,” “Songs from Women (Or About Women) Who Shaped Our World,” which highlighted female artists who’ve made a substantial impact on the music industry.

Final Thoughts

Every woman is different, and no singular initiative will fit the needs of all female team members. We’ve learned this year that nuance is important. Each facet of our identities–race, class, education, religion, sexuality and parenthood–impacts how we show up for one another. More than ever, we need to acknowledge that.

While we know we have more work to do, we are proud of these steps we’ve taken toward a more equitable Prophet. We will continue to find more ways to elevate women’s voices and serve as true allies. We’re elevating women’s voices. We’re listening to what they have to say. We’re pushing back against broad-stroke assumptions. And we’re finding new ways to support one another in challenging times.