This year more than ever March 8th is about change, and how the recent empowerment of women, gender equality, and equal pay is benefiting workforces everywhere. International Women’s Day is a worldwide event celebrating women and promoting equality across genders.
The UN estimates that globally women only make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, for work of equal value. Despite comprising over half the population, women occupy less than 23% of parliamentary seats globally. And in many countries, women still suffer disproportionately from poverty, lack of education, and lack of access to healthcare.
Women are also severely underrepresented in senior management and leadership levels. Only 4.2% of Fortune 500 companies had a female CEO in 2016; a number that’s declining instead of improving.
At present only 50% of women are represented in the labor force globally, compared to 76% of men. And an overwhelming majority of women are concentrated in low-paid, lower-skill or domestic occupations.
Studies have shown that gender diversity has significant benefits for business, including:
- Higher performance. A groundbreaking 2012 study of 2,360 companies globally found that those with at least one woman on the board outperformed those without any female board members by 26% over six years. A 2015 study by McKinsey also found revealed strong links between gender diversity and financial performance.
- Improved reputation. By building your company’s reputation as an equal opportunities employers, you will naturally attract a greater pool of talent, while also appealing to a larger customer and investor base.
- Creativity & innovation.A study by Scientific American found that greater diversity in the workplace fosters creativity, diligence, and hard work. It makes sense that being around people who are different to us helps spark innovative thinking.
Long-term strategies to foster gender diversity are crucial, but you can also celebrate IWD with events on the day. This will help show your business commitment to inclusion and gender equality. Here are some ideas:
- Hold an IWD lunch-Invite strong women leaders, clients in this case, to a speaking evening to share how gender equality in the workplace is good for everyone
- Profile some amazing women on your website
- Send an email to staff to raise awareness of the day (or share this blog post)
- Have a film screening on women’s issues
- Hold a seminar with keynote speeches by women in your industry
- Share your business & industry’s current statistics on gender diversity.
- Schedule a meeting to show some amazing TED talks or let them run continuously in your office throughout the day:
Over the last few decades, there have been hundreds of incredible TED Talks by women. These are just a few of the powerful, controversial and stimulating talks out there.
Thought-provoking viewing for anyone concerned with feminism and women’s issues:
You can also show your support by joining the March on March 8th, which happens across 30 countries to draw attention to an end to gender violence – both domestic and institutional, promote reproductive justice, body autonomy and freedom of choice for all women. Bring attention to equal pay for equal work, environmental justice, and recognition of its links with social inequality and bringing an end to racism.
Ask yourself how you will use March 8th to #PressforProgress. For me, I am attending a panel discussion with a number of successful women all of which have promoted diversity and inclusion in different ways through their careers. I will make the time to listen to inspiring TED talks like the ones I have listed above. And I will finish Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In and make a list of three things I can do to identify and confront gender bias which is more alive and well than most of us may want to admit.
Join me, Cheer Partners and many of our clients by showing your support to International Women’s Day. You can only inspire and grow a movement with the passion and dedication of each individual member. It all begins with you.
- #PressforProgress by helping shift mindsets about women leaders” #InternationalWomensDay
- #PressforProgress by including more women into every meeting” #InternationalWomensDay
- #PressforProgress by celebrating women’s achievements” #InternationalWomensDay