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Covid-19 brought forward many issues, solutions may as well follow

The politicians and the business leaders needed to make their decisions for precautions for Covid-19 quite fast and apply it immediately in their countries and organizations, respectively.

Lately most well-known truth has become the fact that Covid-19 crisis disproportionately affects women.

Women’s roles as medical staff and care givers or even as cashiers have put them on the frontline of this pandemic crisis.  Two women whom I knew and who were the patient welcome desk staff in two well-known hospitals in Istanbul have died from Coronavirus.

Professional women who have moved to their houses are now shouldering much of the additional unpaid work at home, including those which were perhaps purchased from independent service providers such as window cleaning or dry cleaning are now performed at homes. Further, the tutoring for schools online are on the shoulders of women. Leave aside the higher risk of domestic violence and the psychological burden of increased load and fear.

Women handle the crisis quite well

Essence and importance of leadership flourishes at the times of crises. Diverse leadership brings out the aspect that the other one would not have seen otherwise.

Forbes with an article from Wittenberg-Cox have praised all the women leaders of our day. To recap:  Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, stood up early and calmly told her countrymen that this was a serious bug that would infect up to 70% of the population. “It’s serious.” “Take it seriously” she said.  Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan succeed making among the first and the fastest responses. She introduced 124 measures to block the spread without having to resort to the lockdowns that have become common elsewhere. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen urgently had held three-minute press conference.  Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, had the innovative idea of using television to talk directly to her country’s children. She responded to kids’ questions from across the country, taking time to explain why it was OK to feel scared.  Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand was early to lockdown and crystal clear on the maximum level of alert she was putting the country under—and why she was doing this.  Iceland, under the leadership of Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, is offering free coronavirus testing to all its citizens, whether they have symptoms or not.  Sanna Marin of Finland recognized the fact that not everyone reads the press and for this reason they are inviting influencers of any age to spread fact-based information on managing the pandemic.  The article concluded that it is time to recognize and elect more women leaders.

Women on the top management contribute to Stock return of the corporations

Independent from the pandemic, the Wall Street Journal study pointed out that the 20 most diverse companies in S&P 500 had an annual stock return of 10% over five years. Whereas, the 20 least diverse companies had an annual stock return of about 4%. In those companies where top management positions are least occupied by women is least, almost 6% percent return is lost. With all this and similar findings do we need to insist on resisting diversity and live with lack of diversity?

Let us change the way we work and find the new normal

Further, the pandemic has been a catalyst for change on every dimension, say economic, societal, personal or corporate.

According to McKinsey, consumer-packaged-goods (CPG) companies saw their online orders go through the roof, mostly leading their operations descend into chaos in an effort to process and fulfill the surge. Tech-enabled businesses, on the other hand, were able to move at speed. Platforms that work with grocery start-ups tried to meet surging online-order demand.

OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría proposed the liquidity needs of companies and taxpayers with the liquidity needs of the state needs to be looked at in a balancing approach. States, households and companies are first determined to stay at home, after which they have to take measures to stimulate the economy and secure liquidity.

In other words, the tax postponement may need to be followed with a tax reduction. Cost of return to work may be more expensive than the economic support package during lockdown exercised by the countries today. An international fund, such as the “Marshall Plan” would be a solution to be established to support women back to work or work under new ways of work.

There is a need to design gender-sensitive public policy responses. There need to be immediate measures as well as long term measures. Measures are needed to accelerate to reach out to the new normal. The new normal shall include more work from home, less need for office space, more care giving service providers close to the residential areas; a call to the grocery or delivery provider shall send us the food by a drone or a bicycle; we can trust the kids to the caretaker nearby our home during a teleconference. All kinds of online leaning availabilities from classes, cultural opportunities from concerts to an online walk thru a museum have increased tremendously. Every company will look into ways of being more modest and more leans and digital. The employees shall find ways to equip themselves with more knowledge and specialization to become a more sought for person.

One impact of Coronavirus accelerating the rise of questions that both companies and employees had in their minds. “Do we need all these workspaces? What can we do alternatively?” “Can’t I do this work at home? I can save time and travelling cost if I could do this job at home.” Neither the employers nor the employees could dare to ask this question to each other. Now, it happened in a rush. Everybody may seem to be more or less happy about this new normal. But there are issues that needed to be sorted out.

Can’t I participate to discussion from home?” There was a gradual move to answer all these questions. However, with stay home policy virtual conferences and broadcasts have skyrocketed. All the migration has been accelerating quite fast now.

It is necessary to re-design public policies and care mechanisms. They need to be impartial, safe and bullet proof policies. Small businesses constitute the suspension system of large businesses and they need to continue under a better digital structure. Internationally and locally governmental organized funds need to be made available to support small businesses all over the world in a fair subvention scheme to keep them up and going well under the new normal.

Stay-in, stay-safe and stay-alive!

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