It’s that time of the year again: everybody seems to prepare for “International Women’s Day”. The media, business leaders, politicians and thought-leaders share their opinion on the meaning of International Women’s Day.
Regardless of your opinion on International Women’s Day, the problem remains the same: women are consistently and routinely paid less, promoted less and rewarded less than their male counterparts everywhere in the world. The World Economic Forum revealed that none of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children, according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, which reveals that gender parity will not be obtained for 99.5 years.
Business leaders and HR Professionals need to address the gender imbalance now. Their organisation is losing market share due to services not built for women; they are falling behind competition due to lack of innovation caused by a homogeneous workforce; they are losing investment opportunities due to their workforce diversity not meeting investor’s standards; they risk a bad brand reputation and even boycott due to their lack of workforce diversity; they risk gender discrimination lawsuits caused by homogeneous workforce that’s not educated on working worth women and they also fail to attract and retain female talent.
How should organizations prepare for International Women’s Day? Read the following recommendations and learn how you should plan for International Women’s Day to transform your company’s approach.
The danger of the tick-box Women’s Day celebrations
There is much hypocrisy in the corporate world. Some advertising campaigns that are run specifically for International Women’s Day demonstrate this perfectly. So much so that there is a special word for it: ‘femvertising’, or advertising using feminism when convenient.
In March 2019, fans of the popular British soap opera Emmerdale threatened to boycott the all-female International Women’s Day special episode for being sexist. In that instance, the programme leaders took a very narrow-minded approach to Women’s Day, which failed to address the real problem of gender imbalance and was therefore criticised by their audience.
For International Women’s Day in 2018, Budweiser featured female workers in environmental safety, health management and mechanical engineering, on their social media. However, Budweiser has historically been well-known for running sexist advertising, including the Budweiser Girls.
Likewise, on International Women’s Day in 2018, Google shared a trends dashboard showing search volumes for keywords relating to gender equality in an effort to celebrate IWD. However, just a few months before, 20,000 Google employees walked out of their offices after the New York Times reported that Google had allegedly protected high-level executives accused of sexual misconduct and paid a $90m severance package to one of the men. Google did not respond to requests for comment.
“Women are vital to ensuring finances — and financial education — trickle down to other parts of society” said Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates. He continues: “Governments and businesses serious about giving all members of society access to financial services should gear their resources toward women. It’s absolutely critical”. Bill and Melinda Gates recently donated $ 1 Billion to Promote Gender Equality. This is an example of a long-term commitment to supporting women, anchored in actions, rather than a tick-box exercise on International Women’s Day.
If you want to avoid a tick-box approach to International Women’s Day, download this FREE eBook: “7 mistakes to avoid with diversity programmes” and learn from the most common mistakes organisations make with diversity programmes. In addition, you can implement programmes to better support women in your organisation by reading this article: “5 ways companies can bridge the COVID gender gap”.
Do this one powerful thing to support women
If you really want to transform the way your organisation supports women in a meaningful way, you must implement a year-long programme to support women. Many leading organisations have understood that supporting women goes beyond just celebrating International Women’s Day, and have implemented a 365-day programme solely focused on gender equality.
Vodafone celebrates gender equality 365 days a year through their gender equality programme. Vodafone has a long-term ambition to become the world’s best employer for women by 2025. Vodafone holds a week-long celebration to coincide with International Women’s Day.
Nestle: Nestle has been running multiple programmes promoting gender equality for the past few years. In January 2020, Nestle was recognized in Bloomberg Gender Equality Index for its transparency in gender reporting. In 2019, Nestle laid out an action plan to increase the number of women in senior executive positions globally. With its Gender Balance Acceleration Plan, Nestlé announced it would put further emphasis on increasing the proportion of women in the group’s top 200 senior executive positions from around 20% currently to 30% by 2022.
Pfizer was also recognized for demonstrating an outstanding programme to support their female talent pool through their internal global women’s network. Pfizer also stands out for sharing their annual gender pay gap report and being transparent on the female pay gap in their workforce, which is not the case for most organisations.
As women’s rights champion Ruth Bader Ginsburg so eloquently explained: “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. … It shouldn't be that women are the exception”.
When organisations ensure that women are in all places where decisions are being made, they reap of the benefits by enjoying more market share due to services fit for a wider customer base, more innovation thanks to a more creative workforce, a better brand reputation due to more support of women, reduced discrimination thanks to a more educated workforce and better talent attraction and retention thanks to a better employer brand.
Watch How to celebrate Women's Day without hypocrisy to find out more about how to support women on International Women’s Day. Find out how you can hire me to speak at your event on International Women’s Day;
If you want to attract and retain female talent, avoid gender discrimination lawsuits, boost brand reputation, secure investments and get ahead of your competition, hire diversity and inclusion experts and start your organisation’s transformation in support of women. Do not become a statistic, be the change #choosetochallenge #iwd2021