International Women’s Day is March 8th with the theme, “Choose to Challenge.” This year I join my sisters across the country and choose to challenge, and call out, gender bias and inequality. “We choose to celebrate women’s achievements!” We want an inclusive world! We want gender equity!
International Women’s Day is a global united movement of women across countries and continents coming together to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It is also a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
Women have been fighting for equality for a very long time; in this country, since the glorious Suffragettes took to the streets to fight for the right to vote. Equality!!! They actually started the first International Women’s Day with an event in 1911. It took a decades-long fight for women in the United States to win the right to vote. It took nearly 100 years to win that precious right with the ratification of the 19th Amendment and today, women are the beneficiaries of their brave forebears’ tenacity and spirit.
And yet, progress toward gender parity remains slow!
Last year, the representation of women in corporate America was trending in the right direction, according the McKinsey Report: Women in the Workplace 2020. Women in the C suite grew from 17% to 21% over the previous six years, yet they remained significantly underrepresented- particularly women of color- but still the numbers were slowly improving.
And then came COVID-19. As many as two million women are considering leaving the workforce or downsizing their career as they have added caretaker, teacher and the burden of household chores to their already heavy load.
If that happens, we will end up with less women in leadership and even fewer in the pipeline of future leaders. The number of women influencers, mentors and sponsors will be diminished. All those gains of the past six years, will evaporate.
We can’t afford to have that happen. Companies can’t afford to lose women leaders and potential leaders!
If we lose so many senior-level women, the financial repercussions also will be significant. Research shows “that company profits and share performance can be close to 50 percent higher when women are well represented at the top.”
Additionally, senior-level women have a huge and meaningful impact on a company’s culture.
So let’s take this challenge!
I choose to challenge the status quo.
I choose to challenge the lack of gender parity in the C suite and the ongoing fight for a seat at the table.
I choose to challenge the bias and barriers against women in leadership roles and in the boardroom.
I choose to challenge the notion that women don't put in the hard work as leaders because they value family more than their careers.
I choose to challenge organizations to ingrain women's’ advancement in all corporate practices and cultures.
I choose to challenge the gaps in corporate culture /mindsets with inclusiveness programs that build conviction that what is good for women will be good for men.
You know, equality is good, but equity is better. Equality is about sameness, equity is about inclusion. Equity promotes fairness and justice by putting everyone on a level playing field. Equality is giving everyone shoes; equity is giving everyone shoes that fit. It can only work if everyone starts from the same place.
Equity is about fairness. It is about making sure people get access to the same opportunities, so we must ensure equity before we can enjoy equality.
So join me and choose to challenge and become a catalyst for positive change for society.
Not only is gender equity right, it also makes business sense!