International Women's Day continues to be a focal point in the movement for women's rights in all fields of personal and professional life the world over.
It is a day of protest as we continue to push for eliminating the ~20% gender pay gap in favour of men, ads which sell women vacuum cleaners and blenders, and the stigma of disagreeing with the boss. All while advocating a tolerant mindset that allows for all forms of diversity in the workplace.
Yet in many ways it is a day of celebration, with successful women leaders candidly sharing their career experiences, so that others in the workforce can learn, adapt and find the path that suits them best.
On 8 March, if you're drafting out a message to your staff, here's what you can include:
1. Address the issue
As pointed out in the Women in the Workplace 2018 report by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org, while 76% of companies have articulated a business case for gender diversity, only 13% have taken the critical next step of calculating the positive impact on the business.
To make things worse, about 20% of staff say that their company’s commitment to gender diversity feels like lip service.
Change starts with treating gender diversity like the business priority it is. Share data from your industry that points to the problem and how you're solving it as a company - be it through transparent pay policies, unconscious bias training during recruitment, or board-level targets for diversity.
2. Talk about diversity in all forms
Be sure to mention how each of the forms of diversity as valuable to the organisation. Diversity and inclusion continually prove to bring real benefits to businesses – from fueling greater innovation by employees to developing more high-potential leaders.
Out of the two-thirds of CEOs whose companies have a formal diversity and inclusiveness strategy in PwC’s CEO survey, 85% think this has actually improved the bottom line. More than half (56%) also admitted that this has helped them compete in new industries or geographies.
3. Include a quote from your inspiration
Advocates the world over have said some incredible things around women empowerment, and you can count on including some of those messages to reinforce your point, for example:
- Kofi Annan: "There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women."
- Beyoncé Knowles: "Be healthy and take care of yourself, but be happy with the beautiful things that make you, you."
- Sheryl Sandberg: "We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women's voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored."
- Hillary Clinton: "When women participate in the economy, everyone benefits."
- Coco Chanel: "The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud."
- Melinda Gates: "There’s a strong chance the next Bill Gates isn’t going to look anything like the last one. So I’m interested in finding solutions that will help ensure we recognise her when we see her."
- Lady Gaga: "You have to be unique, and different, and shine in your own way."
4. Give staff avenues to participate and ask questions
You've made your point, what's next? Share with your teams the way forward - what can employees to make change happen, what questions or ideas can they approach their managers with, and the avenues your company provides to become more diversity-conscious.
For example, this is a good time to bring up the flexible working policies that are meant to make life easier across the board, applaud the champions of diversity (appointed or informal), or promote the various affinity or interest groups that employees can sign up to.
We hope these tips help! Wishing you and your teams a Happy International Women's Day.