According to this survey by Cleo, the number is quite significant.
Leaving the workforce: In April, 20% said they were considering leaving the workforce. In June, 33% (1 in 3) of those surveyed report having at least one parent that has either left the workforce or dropped down to part-time, most likely the female parent/mother (70% of the time). This has a significant impact on companies’ efforts to retain female employees.
I don’t know many mid to large size organizations anywhere, let alone the legal industry, where there aren’t any working parents among their employees. As we approach the great unknown of what the beginning of the school year is going to look like, are you prepared to have a bunch of them leave your organization? If not, what are you going to do to try and support them?
For that matter, what are we, as a society, going to do to support the working parents who can’t simply drop out and live off the spouse’s salary while they help out with the kids online schools?
We don’t have any easy answers. I know there are some who would say just open up the schools, and the problem goes away. But there are a lot of parents and teachers not comfortable with that idea, and I don’t think anyone truly knows whether that would be OK, a disaster, or something in between.
But for law firms, and other organizations, what can we do? If we say we are dedicated to diversity, this is where the rubber hits the road. Many of the working parents, especially the women, in your office need help to continue working for you. How dedicated are you to diversity? What are you willing to do to help them stay in the workforce in some capacity? Or when these decisions get tough, will your diversity pledge get tossed out?