“Obnoxious and toxic”: Women’s professional network slammed for tone-deaf take on COVID-19 job losses

covid-19 unemployment

A US-based professional network for women has been slammed for an Insta post claiming “unemployment is the new sabbatical” and calling on its followers to find the silver lining in their layoffs.

Girlboss, which pitches itself as “the professional network for ambitious women”, posted the would-be inspiration for its 1.6 million Instagram followers yesterday.

“In many ways, unemployment can feel devastating—both financially and emotionally,” the caption on the post said.

“But today, we’re looking for the silver lining.

“What if unemployment is an opportunity to strategize for the next chapter? What if we can use this break to recover from months of festering burnout?”

To say this is a tad tone deaf in the current environment would be an understatement.

Girlboss followers were quick to point out that to be in a position to enjoy or utilise unemployment is to be in a position of extreme privilege.

That’s arguably particularly true in the US, where COVID-19 caused unemployment figures to jump from 4% to a historic high of 14.7% in the space of a month, and where losing employment often means losing health insurance.

“Being able to enjoy unemployment is a privilege and luxury. It is an awful, harsh reality for so many, particularly those who are already disadvantaged, such as BIPOC individuals and women,” one commentor wrote.

“Not the best take at the moment in my opinion,” said another.

One response accused Girlboss of “romanticizing unemployment during this difficult time”. Another called the post “obnoxious and toxic”.

Another said bluntly: “Your privilege is showing”.

One commenter explained how her own working hours had been slashed in half, and that she had already defaulted on credit card and car payments.

“This ‘sabbatical’ has been emotionally and financially DEVASTATING. Not just uncomfortable,” she wrote.

While some commenters did respond saying they have found time to “get entrepreneurial” or simply enjoy some time out, it’s fair to say most recognised that’s not the universal experience of joblessness.

As one commenter put it: “Toxic positivity is not cute”.

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