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In the last year, nearly 3 million women have left the U.S. workforce, leaving the labor participation rate of women lower than it was before the pandemic. Globally, women lost $800 billion in income because of COVID-19. 

Many women were furloughed or laid off, while others had to choose between risking their health at frontline jobs or staying home to provide childcare when daycares closed and schools moved to remote learning. 

As women begin to return to work, Leslie Tarnacki (WorkForce Software SVP of Human Resources) shared ideas for how female employees and their employers can accelerate women’s workforce reentry. 

She says it’s critical to identify and resolve the issues that drove women out in the first place, and suggests offering flexibility needed to manage family responsibilities, making technology available to help them communicate their needs, and building a culture of empathy. 

Tarnacki also notes that the pandemic was a situation where no leader had all of the answers, so being transparent and admitting that is key. Speak to the employees whose lives are affected by leadership decisions to guide the policies that are put in place—especially when it comes to hiring processes and setting women up for success. 

“Women are underrepresented in positions of power, often dramatically so,” she says. “For this to change, we must be intentional and seek ways to accelerate change.” 

Finally, she gives some advice for young women early on in their careers, advising them to be themselves, take risks, and use their voices. And don’t be afraid to let the people around you know when you’ve done excellent work. 

Read Tarnacki’s full conversation with Forbes below.