Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Women and Girls: Best Practices from the Turkish Private Sector (August 2021)


Study 1: The Impact of COVID-19 on Female Employees: Corporate Responses, Good Practices and the Way Forward

A research survey was carried out from March to June 2020 by TÜSİAD, TÜRKONFED and UN Women Turkey, aiming to understand the possible impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the private sector from a gender perspective. More than 300 Turkish businesses operating in a wide range of sectors and regions participated to this research. The main outcomes of the survey were:

  • The two most frequent challenges reported by employees were related to work-life balance and domestic violence issues. A large difference between women and men is observed in this respect. Women reported challenges including longer working hours due to remote work from home, anxiety, psychological stress and exhaustion, as well as limited access to communication and information technologies at home.

  • Enterprises with a higher percentage of female employees tended to do a better job of ensuring female representation in their COVID-19 response teams. The rate of women employees on the response teams correlated with their share of overall workers in the enterprise. Shifting to remote work from home was observed at a higher rate among the enterprises with higher rates of women employees.

  • Most surveyed enterprises (76%) reported that they took overall measures to reduce the stress of their employees and improve their overall well-being since the advent of restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 crisis. However, only 26% of surveyed businesses took genderspecific measures specifically for women employees.

  • Despite the challenges identified with regard to the gendered impacts of pandemic, few enterprises took action. The actions that did take place included:

o Three enterprises are collecting data about domestic violence: one enterprise reported taking a prevention measure, twelve enterprises consulted with internal stakeholders, and six enterprises consulted with external stakeholders about the topics related to domestic violence.

o 28 enterprises are collecting data about work-life balance: three enterprises are taking prevention measures, 26 enterprises are consulting with internal stakeholders, and four enterprises are consulting with external stakeholders about the topics related to work-life balance.

  • The greater the share of women employees in a business, the less likely that business was to receive state subsidies and incentive opportunities provided by economic support packages.

TÜSİAD, TÜRKONFED and UN Women Turkey constructed an equality index using the survey findings.
The index is composed of criteria including commitment to the equality principles, cooperation in actions for equality and equal representation in executive positions. By analyzing the equality index, the researchers found that enterprises that adopted gender-specific strategies or measures prior to the pandemic were also more likely to adopt gender-specific measures to respond to the pandemic. The efforts made in cooperation with partners, other enterprises, the government, or civil society organizations (CSOs) to achieve gender equality were also key contributing factors.