• Cat Graham

#EachforEqual: Why Gender Parity Matters

I recently shared a LinkedIn article about a pivotal moment in my career. It was the story of when I was demoted returning from parental leave by my male boss because I was now on the “Mommy Track." My boss was wrong and devalued all my hard work and dedication to the role. His dismissive attitude fueled my passion to create a career where I can improve business outcomes by hiring, training, developing and caring for the team; I became focused on being the best I could be in this field.

I do not consider myself a feminist, but I do look forward to International Women’s Day every year. It’s an opportunity to recalibrate and understand that women and men alike can do anything they want. I have always been interested in the best candidate for the job, no matter their sex, race, ethnicity or religious preferences. Gender parity is just that- an equal balance of men and women in the workplace, in education, in government, where the opportunities are the same and the pay is based on merit.

Each of us should drive and shape our own experiences, but we need levers to do it. We need workplaces that drive a sense of belonging and encourage inclusion. We need our governments to do better so men and women share seats at the table, much like in California. California's law mandates that by the end of 2019, public companies that have their executive headquarters in California must have at least one woman on their boards, and three by 2021. We need to catch people doing things right and doing things wrong, we need to be each other's allies and speak up. Most of all, we need understanding.

This year’s theme speaks to me because each of us should intentionally be for equality. Organizations like Paradigm for Parity and International Women’s Day provide not only the awareness, but also the tools that drive change. Women have the opportunity to show men they value their partnership; women have the opportunity to mentor and sponsor other women, and most of all, men have the opportunity to show other men they value their female colleagues. This year’s theme is one of collaboration and hope. None of us can get there alone.