Every year on the 8th March, the world celebrates a globally recognised day with gender quality at its core. That is, of course, International Women’s Day. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Each for Equal, which is drawn from the notion of collective individualism. It challenges us to choose to defy stereotypes, fight bias and broaden our perceptions to create a gender balanced world in which all men and women are treated equally.
Celebrating International Women’s Day in your workplace is one thing your business can do to participate in the conversation around gender equality and raise awareness of IWD 2020. Here are some ideas:
Strike the Each for Equal pose. Strike the Each for Equal pose and share a picture on your website or social media channels with the #EachforEquals hashtag to show your support for IWD and to motivate others to celebrate.
Invite a female speaker of ask staff to share stories. Hold an IWD themed morning tea or lunch with women speakers to share their stories and experiences.
Celebrate them. Profile some of your organisation’s amazing women on your website
Fundraise for a women’s charity. Ask team members to vote for a charity and then organise things to raise money for it. You could also encourage employees to bring in items they no longer use, like old clothes or books, that you can donate to the charity.
Get inspired. Decorate your office with posters of inspirational women or ask team members to think about a woman who has inspired them in some way. Get them to write this down or bring in a picture and stick it somewhere in the office where everyone can see it.
Share skills. Hold fun skills share sessions run by women across the organisation.
Declare an action. Encourage team members to declare what action they'll take to help build a more gender equal world.
Whatever activities you choose to do, it goes without saying that they should be inclusive of both men and women. This day is about unity, equality, reflection and advocacy.
International Women’s Day is just one way of recognising the gender issues that unfortunately still affect millions of people worldwide. Here are just some ways you can make long-term, impactful changes for gender equity in the workplace:
Make work/life balance a priority. Companies should play a vital role in supporting mothers by working together to agree on a fair and balanced workplace that will promote productivity, while also allowing flexibility and the option to work remotely where possible. Paternal leave for fathers should also be promoted.
Make mentors available. Having mentors available to team members is an invaluable opportunity for everyone in the workplace. Mentors can help team members tackle obstacles people face throughout their career including issues with inequality.
Be cautious of maternity discrimination. The scale of pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the UK is staggering, with an estimated 54,000 mothers every year being forced to leave their jobs because of how they are treated during their pregnancy, maternity leave or after they return to work. Ensure your existing policies do not discriminate against pregnant employees and be alert to unfavourable treatment among colleagues.
Encourage women into leadership roles. Many women miss out on great opportunities because they mistakenly believe they are underqualified. Businesses should start actively encouraging female employees to take more chances and go for opportunities they want to take. Businesses could also think about developing new roles for women that allow a new perspective instead of trying to mould them into jobs men have been doing for decades.
Close the gender pay gap. In order to promote female equality in the workplace, it must first begin with equal pay. Pay disparity and the gender gap are two of the biggest recurring issues in the workforce; in 2019, the gender pay gap was 17.3% in the UK. Paying employees fairly and equally based on experience level, not on gender, is truly the first step needed to properly promote gender equality.
Ask and listen. Perhaps most crucially, seek help from the women in your organisation. Ask them about the barriers they face and about the work policies and conditions they’d like to see. Listen to what they have to say and take steps to honour it.
International Women’s day is a day everyone should take part in celebrating by putting their best foot forward to work towards a more engaged workforce and creating a place for celebration, action, change and equality.