2019 has already been a great year for women at work. Take Olivia Colman’s Oscar winning speech, or Emma Thompson’s open letter to Skydance studios, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s takedown of US campaign finance laws.
But there’s still plenty of work to be done to address gender balance, and that’s where International Women’s Day comes in.
International Women’s Day is a day marked around the world on the 8 March, celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also pushes the advancement of gender equality.
This year, the theme is #BalanceforBetter. It’s a call to action, asking all genders, all industries, all cultures to push for a more gender-balanced world.
In the workplace, the focus is still very much needed. In engineering, Britain’s record for employing female engineers is the worst in Europe – below 10%. In boardrooms across the UK, women only make up 26.25% of senior management. And statistics show that it will take 60 years for the gender pay gap in the UK – the median average hourly wage of men and women working in the same organisations – to close.
IWD in the workplace
• Be an advocate. If you’re in a conversation or situation that doesn’t feel right, that’s because it probably isn’t. Speak up for the rights of women, suggest your hard-working female colleague for that promotion, and challenge a status quo, like the lack of flexible working, that’s making it harder for women to reach their full potential.
• Be inspired. Where Women Work highlights the companies that are prime employers for women – from embracing diversity, to providing mentoring, and supporting flexible working. Read their criteria for prime employers here and see if there are things your company can change to start ticking these boxes and become a progressive employer for women.
• Be a gamechanger. If you’re a woman at work, try tapping into some of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In philosophy. During meetings, work hard to make sure everyone’s ideas are heard, especially women. Circle back to the original idea put forward, and if someone is interrupted, speak up and say you’d like to hear that point to the end. Meetings are most effective when everyone’s best ideas are heard and considered – so pushing for that atmosphere enhances both the women at work, and the wider business.
IWD every day
International Women’s Day is big on celebrating achievement; you can support it by being an advocate for women in a number of different ways, and on any given day.
• Vow to listen to more female artists. Check out activist Malala Yousafzai’s IWD playlist she created for Starbucks on last year’s IWD – it’s a great place to start.
• Read more women too. Keep track of your reading list for the year and pledge to read more books by female authors. Check out this blog for inspiration, for all types of readers.
• Put your money where your mouth is and invest in women doing great things in your local community. Head to a local SME that you know is run by women and buy a card, coffee or cake.