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The COVID-19 crisis has been extraordinary difficult for women: The Forem CIO

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Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Alli Young, The Forem Founder & CEO, discuss the pandemic’s impact on women looking to expand their professional skills.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women relative to men, especially when it comes to the workplace. Now a year into this crisis, is that changing? Joining me now to talk about it is Alli Young. She is a former Google executive, also the founder and CEO of The Forem, a career coaching company for women. Alli, it's good to see you here. Why is it that this pandemic has disproportionately impacted women this time, especially when you look at it compared to the Great Recession, which many people call the man-cession, because it had impacted men so strongly?

ALLI YOUNG: Yeah, hi, Alexis. Thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure to meet you. Listen, the COVID-19 crisis has been extraordinarily difficult for women, and we women have, a lot of us are mothers, we have children at home, they're not at school, there aren't options for us to really take care of work, as well as kids.

So it has been extraordinarily difficult. The pressure on women is something that is often insurmountable, and it's very hard to give within side organizations, so organizations, they still have to grow, they have revenue targets that they need to hit. None of that has changed for companies, and at the same time, they need all of their employees to be just as productive as before, but at the same time again, we have kids that are at home, and we have demands that are at home, that also are not giving. And those same demands often are not put on men.

So women are absolutely bearing the brunt of this. And then of course, there are certain sectors of the industry, of industries that have been impacted more than others, like within the services industry and health care industry, where the majority of employees are women, and those industries are hit very, very hard.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: So what are you hearing right now on your platform there at The Forem from women who are looking to make a move, maybe jump to a different job, perhaps move up within their current job, during this very difficult time when a lot of people are having to do this and work remotely, and they're not necessarily with their bosses or the people who are going to be making those decisions?

ALLI YOUNG: Yeah. It's a new type of skill that a lot of us are all learning, so all of a sudden, everybody moved remote. So the women that we work with, we really work with women, as well as underrepresented talent within large organizations, as well as small startups. Mostly in the tech industry, a lot of financial services companies, and the people that we work with, they still want to advance.

Just because we're all remote, just because all of this stuff is happening, doesn't mean that your career goals and aspirations are moved to the side, but we do have to find ways of working smarter, not harder, because of all of the demands that a lot of us have, as well as things like Zoom fatigue that we're all feeling.

So the way that we work very often with the people that come into our platform and into our program is teaching them, it's not just about doing your job and doing your job extraordinarily well. We have to do our job really well, but ultimately, that's table stakes. We also have to make sure our work is seen, our work is visible, and we're able to connect it to career stakeholders and people that open doors to us and sponsors.

So how do we identify those sponsors in our career, and the door openers, and how do we then make sure that our work that we're spending an extraordinary amount of time on, that it is visible to those people, who can then propel our career forward.

And all of a sudden, when we're remote, it makes all of that much harder. So what we do is that we work with women in fairly large groups of cohorts, so we breakout women based on their level within early, mid senior career stage, and then we have a community within each one of those stages, and then we teach them exactly how can you advance in your career, how do you make sure, again, your work is seen, how do we make sure that those stakeholders in your career are opening doors for you, and are well aware of your work and your impact, even if you're not in the office, even if you're not in a big meeting room or at a conference together, even when we're all behind our computer.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: So this is really interesting stuff you're talking about. You're providing these women, it sounds like, with the tools they need to make this happen for themselves. But if you could give women hearing this interview one actionable thing they could do today or tomorrow, in their careers, regardless of where they are in their career, what might that be?

ALLI YOUNG: So 85% of all of our opportunities come from the people we know. And if we're just a heads down worker and are knocking it out of the park every day, but we're not connecting with new people, and we're so busy that we can't create new relationships, or network, then we're not going to go as far as somebody else who's pretty good at their job, but maybe aren't as well networked as us.

So my recommendation is to really spend time with other people, cultivating new relationships. One of the things that we do in The Forem is that we connect our members to one another. So we have matching algorithms so that people are constantly networking, and then we teach people how do you network? How do you connect with other people?

And Alexis, the trick to that is to be generous. So we always say, when you network with somebody and you connect with them, ask them, how can you help them with their career? What are their goals? And how can you help them achieve those goals? And when you do that, those same people will be rooting for you and trying to help you achieve your goals.

So if your career is going swimmingly well, you're happy, you're exactly in the place that you want to be, we recommend networking at least once a week. But if you want to change, if you want to do something new, you want to pivot, you want to go for that next big promotion, you really need to be networking and cultivating new relationships two to three times a week, maybe four. But it's really one of the most high impact, high ROI activities that you could do besides just doing your work and being great at the job.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Great advice. And I know that can be challenging during these remote times, but also, you can probably get people a little more easily than you could pre-pandemic. Alli Young of The Forem, thanks so much. Appreciate your time.

ALLI YOUNG: Thank you.