International Women’s Day Was Last Week – What Are You Doing This Week?
International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated a week ago on the 8th of March. Anyone would’ve been able to find numerous articles online, sharing tips and ideas for how to celebrate the day in their office. However, as good as pink cupcakes may taste, we’re now a week out from IWD and we’d like to ask you the question – what is your organisation doing now?
Female empowerment movements have shifted and evolved over the past few centuries as women have worked to gain equal rights and equitable experiences within society. However, as far as we’ve come by the year 2022, there’s still much more that needs to be done. This years’ focus for IWD was #BreakTheBias – working to fight against gender stereotypes and discrimination.
Instead of celebrating women for a single day each year, the focus should be on making quantifiable and worthwhile changes year round. Corporate work environments in particular are notorious for their misaligned policies and procedures, whether formally written or hidden behind closed doors. A single day of celebration doesn’t do too much when these policies and procedures are engrained in women’s everyday experiences.
The importance of empowering women every day
“Supporting women at home and in your workplace every day in ways that they need, empowering them and standing up for them should be in the DNA of any organisation. Not only is it the right thing do but the positive impacts on productivity and engagement in the business are phenomenal.” — Maitreyee Khire, our Managing Director
In addition to being the just thing to do, upholding certain principles of women’s empowerment can realise a number of positive outcomes for your organisation. Including, to:
Improve corporate performance;
Attract and retain talent;
Increase innovation capacity;
Diversify your supplier base;
Better meet the needs and demands of consumers;
End harmful gender-based stereotypes in advertising and outreach materials; and
Fully integrate into communities.
A few things you can do in the workplace to #BreakTheBias for good
1. Fight the idea that women working together must be rivals
Whether it’s born from the media or necessity (or both), it’s become the ‘norm’ for women to be rivals within a workplace in order to work their way up the corporate ladder. However, all this does is cause extra, unnecessary divides between team members.
Of course it’s not realistic for everyone to be best friends. However, we should encourage everyone to celebrate each other’s strengths and show support for each other’s weaknesses, whatever they may be.
2. Work to educate your team on how to recognise workplace harassment and set in place safer procedures for coming forward
In a study by the Australian Human Rights Commission, it was found that in 2018 one in three Australian workers had experienced workplace sexual harassment in the five years prior, yet only 17% of those made a complaint.
There are a number of reasons for this, including a strong history of complaints being ignored, victim blaming and shaming, and poor policies surrounding the process of making a complaint. Currently, the onus is typically on the victim to come forward, with less being done to prevent harassment occurring in the first place.
In addition to establishing clear, private, and safe procedures for making harassment complaints regarding, there should be leader-driven, practical prevention techniques in place.
3. Set meaningful and achievable goals for promotions
Requesting a promotion is notoriously difficult for most people and, in particular, women often sell themselves short. Research suggests that women may downplay their achievements under the belief there may be backlash on self-promotion.
When promotions are based on subjective measures that change over time, it’s harder to justify to others why one person should get it over another person. It also encourages disparity over the size of the promotion and length of time between promotions.
To help mitigate this, leaders should work with their teams to set meaningful, achievable, and most importantly, quantifiable goals for promotions.
4. Embrace the differences between everyone on your team
Building diverse teams is just one piece of the puzzle in having better decision making, boosting creativity, increasing employee engagement and a sense of belonging, and building higher levels of trust. Another piece of the puzzle is ensuring the elements that make teams diverse are also celebrated and embraced.
Stereotypes are rarely helpful in any situation. We know that not all women are ‘nurturing, mothering’ figures, particularly when they’re in a work environment, and not all should be treated in that way.
5. Work to achieve equal pay for work of equal value
The gender pay gap conversation is far from over and won’t be over until organisations universally commit to equal pay for work of equal value. Within Australia, the gender wage gap persists at about 13.8% – and this figure is larger for ethnic minorities and the LGBTIQ community.
There are a number of other factors at play when looking at the overall gender pay gap, including things like occupational segregation, the ‘motherhood penalty,’ and differences in who works full time vs part time or casually. However, while it can be difficult to compare like for like, it’s clear that gender pay gaps are in favour of men worldwide.
So, International Women’s Day was last week; are you working on any of these changes this week?