This is a side note but I have mixed emotions about Ariana Huffington. I used to work as the lunchtime bartender at the restaurant next door to her then husband Michael’s campaign office. Michael was very personable, we loved when he came in. And whereas Ariana was nice to our customers, she treated us, the staff, markedly different, and was oddly demonstrative about it. But I admire how she supported Michael and the LGBTQ community after their divorce, so I try to be charitable and hope she’s softened. And I respect the hell out of how she reinvented herself since her days as a candidate’s wife.
Ariana co-founded The Huffington Post and is the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, whose mission is to avoid burnout from exhaustion in the workplace. Hollywood Life got an exclusive with Ariana, who is set to speak at the No7 Unstoppable Together Job Summit tomorrow, and asked her about the “mass exodus” of women from the workforce that Kamala Harris’ recently called a “national emergency.” Ariana says we are in big trouble if we don’t curb the “she-cession,” as it is being called, and that we, in fact, stand to lose many of the gains women have worked so hard to get.
[From Hollywood Life]
Tell us about the No7 Unstoppable Together Job Summit? Why is it crucial to address the she-cession now?
Women have borne the lion’s share of the economic burdens of the pandemic, which we can see in job losses, women leaving the workforce, and in the disproportionate mental load of running family life at home. Too many women are being forced to choose between being successful in their jobs or being successful in their roles at home. And this she-cession threatens to roll back many of the gains women have made in recent years.
By giving women the tools, they need to protect their own mental resilience and well-being, we can empower them to navigate the uncertainties that will define our future. For all the challenges of this time, this is also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a new normal for women that’s a better normal.
Last year had a revolutionary impact on the way people work, with more employees working remotely. Which positive changes do you wish to see continue once we come out of the pandemic?
We were already in an epidemic of stress and burnout before the coronavirus pandemic, and now the conversation around well-being and mental resilience has been brought to the front burner.
Companies increasingly see well-being as essential to every aspect of their business. So, I hope we’ll continue to see companies take action to nurture the health and well-being of their employees, whether they’re working remotely or in the office. Mental resilience has to be a key part of our new normal.
When reading stories of parents who had to deal with home schooling or home care during Stay At Home, it was the mother who left her job in almost every case. And the reason was usually because the husband made more money, so it was practical to give up the position that made less money. But that’s a sad commentary, that women still, consistently, make less money than men across the board. I know in the personal conversations I’m having, in which both parents are fortunate enough to have jobs, it’s still the mother who is also managing the schoolwork almost exclusively if the children are home. And when my kids talk about their Zoom classes, it’s only the female teachers who keep having to interrupt their sessions to attend to their own child’s needs, never their male teachers. We, even today, are still functioning as a society that *allows* a woman to have a job if and only if she has her household taken care of. It’s like the end of the WWII all over again – when the country closed for business, and there were so many less jobs, somehow the men got to keep the ones that were left. Package it however you want, Rosie the Riveter was sent home once again. Ariana is exactly right, we do stand to lose everything because the sad fact is, we haven’t gained near as much as we thought, and the pandemic has put a spotlight on that. We should start by not giving this a cute nickname like “she-cession.” I’m okay with mass exodus but even that overlooks the fact we are being forced out.
The rest of Ariana’s interview dealt with mental health. It’s good and worth reading. Her Thrive website is devoted to tips and data to help people from letting their work send them to an early grave. There’s an app too. It’s everything from events to breathing tips to how to sleep better (which Ariana is a big advocate of). Check it out, get a good night’s rest and let’s go take back the workforce because there is no way we’re giving it back to the Boys Club.
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Photo credit: Avalon and Getty Images