Why Caribbean jobs should hire more women

IDB report finds businesses with more women workers had better productivity and innovation

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS — It has long been a general belief that women in Caribbean jobs perform better than their male counterparts, but a new report from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is confirming its truth to a certain extent.

The report compared women in the workforce in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean during the pandemic.

Those results showed exactly why businesses can benefit from making an effort to include women in their workforce, and to keep them there. Namely, businesses can benefit from:

  • A more equitable workforce
  • Better productivity and innovation
  • Better inter-company cooperation
  • A more inclusive company culture

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    IDB links women workers to business success

    jobs in the Caribbean

    Jobs with more women had better productivity, innovation and collaboration. (Photo by PICHA Stock on Pexels)

    In the 12th volume of the Caribbean Economics Quarterly report, the IDB acknowledged that many women lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    However, it noted that businesses that made an effort to retain more women in their workforce appeared to perform better.

    “The evidence presented shows that firms that effectively mitigated female employment losses were also more successful in limiting productivity losses,” the IDB concluded.

    “Likely channels operate through a positive association between a larger share of women in the workforce and higher propensities to innovate within firms and to cooperate between firms on innovation.

    “As such, policies to facilitate female labour force participation will likely generate returns not only for equity considerations but also for productivity and long-term growth.”


    Gender disparities among Caribbean jobs

    Despite tending to perform better on their Caribbean jobs, women in the region are still facing gender disparity in the workplace and in many other aspects of society.

    jobs in the Caribbean

    IDB: policies that enable women's employment improve productivity. (Photo by PICHA Stock on Pexels)

    Studies, such as by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), have shown that women generally do the most work in the Caribbean — whether that’s in terms of formal or informal employment or domestic, unpaid labour.

    The IDB acknowledged this, and added that, in the Caribbean, “although female educational attainment is higher than that of males, gaps in labour market participation are still unfavourable to women.”

    At the same time, women are also more often employed in lower-earning positions than men, as well as in informal roles that leave them vulnerable.

    It said: “Indeed, the COVID-19 shock led to worldwide job losses that were relatively more pronounced among women.

    “Within the Caribbean, the heavier burden of domestic chores on women and the relatively higher female concentration in the service industry resulted in female employment being heavily affected.”

    To this end, the IDB reiterated that “policies aimed at limiting female unemployment are not only needed for equity but also are effective at improving productivity.”

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