Throughout my career, work-life balance has always been a focus of mine. Over the years, working full time at an executive level and raising three children who were less than four years apart in age has demanded balance which is extremely difficult to achieve. I have often looked back and wondered to myself, “How did I ever do that?”

When I learned that this year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Balance for Better”, I smiled. How fitting for me?

I have always looked forward to March 8th, IWD, because I get to reminisce about all of the women I have met along my career path who have mentored me, sponsored me and been there for me when I needed advice and support—or helped me pick myself up by the bootstraps!  These people in my life have been; colleagues, bosses, friends, sisters and even daughters!

However, to be fair and inclusive, I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge my husband’s strong role in my supportive mix. He and I were married at a time when I was already well into my career, and he was just starting his. So, when the time came to take on a married last name, it was completely his idea that HE change HIS last name to MINE! How is that for non-traditional? In fact, it was so non-traditional that my husband had to convince the DMV that taking my last name was not actually illegal. Of course, I left it up to him to tell his immigrant father that I was not going to become a “Csizmadia”, but that he was to become a “Peck”.

This act is just one shining example of his sincere devotion and support for me–and for us. Through the years, his job allowed him to stay home most of the weekdays, which meant I would then take the weekend shift with the kids. Needless to say, we didn’t see each other much, but his involvement made a positive and lasting impression on our children.

Things never remain the same in our lives, thus promoting a true need for a balancing act that must continuously evolve.  Our kids are grown now, and I have become an entrepreneur with a most amazing and talented woman partner. Building a women-owned company is full of incredible highs and terrible lows, and all the women– and men– who have helped in the past have become new resources to drive strength in new ways I never thought possible.

I encourage you to celebrate your own ways to “Balance for Better” on International Women’s Day this year.  And don’t forget to include in your celebration everyone who has shared in your balancing act.

#PressforProgress March 8th, International Women’s Day

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