As primary caregivers, women have been the hardest hit in adjusting their work life to fit the needs of family during the pandemic. They have scaled back or totally left the workforce in staggering numbers. The immediate effects are worrisome, but the long-term impact on women’s career advancement and gender diversity in the workplace could be irreversible. While not yet a widely litigated issue, the problem calls for government, business—or both—to come up with new policies and guidelines on childcare and retention of female workers.

The statistics tell the story. In January alone, 275,000 women left the labor force, bringing the total number since the start of the pandemic to 2.3 million, according to the National Women’s Law Center. What’s more, 1 in 4 working women is considering downshifting her career due to pandemic-related challenges, according to McKinsey & Co.’s report Women in the Workplace 2020. Employers are losing valuable workers, and it has to stop.