Women in Baltimore area face stress, discrimination in workplace amid COVID-19 pandemic, study finds

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Baltimore-area women say the COVID-19 pandemic has left them overloaded with work, discriminated against at their workplace or unsatisfied with their job, a survey released Thursday by a prominent local business group shows.

Nearly one in four of the women respondents reported discrimination at their job, and more than one in five said employees are treated differently based on their race or ethnic group, according to the two-part survey by the Greater Baltimore Committee and Towson University. More than 23% of women said they have been “singled out” due to their gender.

Discrimination has “played a large role in the general stress of employees over the past year,” and discrimination based on race, gender and age all contributed to plans to leave a job, findings showed.

More than 2 million women have left the workforce since the pandemic began, prompting the GBC’s Baltimore Women’s Advisory Board to launch its own regional study.

“Employers run the risk of losing high-quality employees and diversity in the workplace unless they work to understand and address employee needs in this very stressful time for everyone,” said Donald C. Fry, GBC president and CEO, in an announcement.

Respondents indicated that stress has reached higher levels due to workload demands. More than half, or 64.2%, said they feel the demands of needing to complete a great amount of work, while a third said they feel “burned out.” Most, or nearly 67%, said supervisors expect the same amount of work during the pandemic. Those feeling the most stress tended to work in health care, nonprofits, financial services and education.

Well over half of respondents — 64% — said they are not satisfied with their job and just over one fifth said they plan to leave. Nearly half, or 46%, said they could find a comparable job if they left current employment. Turnover intention was seen across all industry sectors covered in the survey, except professional services.

The GBC said 443 people responded to the survey, conducted March through June.

Women facing stress at work and in family responsibilities are looking for support, guidance and better communication from employers, said Gabby Swab, an assistant professor in Towson University’s department of management.

The GBC, leadership of the GBC Baltimore Women’s Advisory Board and researchers at Towson University planned to discuss findings during a virtual presentation Thursday. The business advocacy group also said it plans to develop programs to help employers find solutions to worker concerns.

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