How employers can honour International Women’s Day
March 8, 2023
Today is International Women’s Day (IWD) which celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world.
As employers, IWD is a good opportunity to reflect on your company’s commitment to equality in the workplace and to celebrate the achievements of the women in your teams. Honouring the day in some way is important to demonstrate your commitment as an employer to continue to support women, or to continue learning and find ways to do more. There are various ways you can do this and this blog will explore some of those options.
The importance of International Women’s Day in the workplace
Today, attitudes toward women at work have improved. However, women are often still not seen as equal to men in many workplaces. There’s still some way to go before we see equality surrounding pay, job and training opportunities, and promotions. Furthermore, with this year’s theme of ’embracing equity’ – employers really need to understand the distinct needs of women in the workplace, and respond to those with effective policies, training and resources to ensure a level playing field. This is an area that might be less familiar for employers, but it can have a big impact on gender parity and so should really underpin any gender-focussed strategies.
That’s why IWD 2023 is so important. Today is a good opportunity to start the conversation and to really understand how your organisation can better support women’s needs.
How employers around the world can honour International Women’s Day
IWD may be the ideal starting point for companies to consider women in their workplace. It’s also a day to reflect, inspire, and progress.
The most forward-thinking employers are focussed on long-term strategies. They’re looking for ways to make their organisation a better environment for women, now and in the future.
Here’s some examples of long-term strategies you and your organisation might consider:
Create a gender-balanced workplace
One of the key objectives of IWD is to encourage businesses to set goals and targets to achieve a gender-balanced workplace.
Improvements to policies and practices can ensure that your workplace welcomes and supports female colleagues and applicants alike. For example, do you need to amend your parental leave policy and flexible working guidance?
Encourage women to apply for leadership positions
If you want gender equality to exist in your organisation then women need to be in leadership roles.
To achieve this your company can:
- educate and confront unconscious gender bias among managers and those in senior positions
- use gender-neutral terms in job descriptions
- make it clear that you value diversity and inclusion
- offer flexible working
- address gender pay gap issues
- offer support and development opportunities
Provide mentorship opportunities to women
Mentorship programmes can have benefits for everyone as they can provide an inclusive and equitable workplace.
Mentorship programmes allow women to evolve in their careers. It provides a safe and encouraging space and may lead to higher retention rates.
- offer networking opportunities
- share expertise and experiences
- share resources and access to information
- offer access to support
- offer an opportunity to develop skills
- develop advocacy skills
Including specific diversity policies for women
Policies around supporting women’s health are important, especially when seeking to build an equitable workplace. For example, 85% of working women have experienced at least four women’s health conditions that can cause anxiety, depression, lack of concentration and general inability to perform to standard.
Indeed a woman’s biological health will dictate that she will have a very different career journey to male colleagues. Recognising the needs of women when it comes to things like, painful periods, fertility or menopause, and understanding the adverse impact on the business if these areas aren’t supported, is vital. 1 in 10 women will leave the workforce due to menopause symptoms – and so, if recruiting and retaining female talent at all levels of an organisation is a priority – it’s easy to see why menopause support is a must.
Policies need to reflect women’s health needs, for example women may need:
- time off for appointments
- flexible working
- practical accommodations to enable them to do their job
As an employer it’s important that policies addressing women’s health be accessible to both employees and those in leadership.
Offer diversity and inclusion training
Women need a supportive work environment when facing various biological health needs. Training your managers is key so they understand and feel equipped to offer support.
With this year’s IWD theme promoting the importance of equity, offering diversity and inclusion training opens the door to wider conversations around creating an equitable environment.
Listen to women’s experiences
When asked, 90% of women said they feel that their menopausal symptoms have a negative impact on their work.
Hearing women’s stories and experiences can help you to put policies into action.
To achieve this, create an action plan that outlines the steps needed to integrate changes into everyday working practices.
Adhering to the action plan can ensure women are able to do their job effectively. This will contribute towards a motivated workforce and employee retention.
International Women’s Day: Supporting women’s causes
To honour IWD, there are also practical ways you can support and celebrate women outside of your organisation. Here are some ideas:
- Donate. Give money to charitable organisations that support women either locally or globally.
- Fundraise. Raise money for women’s causes. This can be a fun way to make a difference. You could hold a women’s history quiz or host challenges and games.
- Offer workshops. You could hold online interactive or in-person events to discuss women’s experiences.
As we’ve discussed, International Women’s Day is an important day to reflect upon women’s experiences in the workplace, both in history and today. It’s also an opportunity to seek change and to progress in meeting the needs of women so they’re equipped and able to succeed in their careers.
To learn about how Peppy can help your organisation achieve an equitable workplace, download our brand new toolkit: International Women’s Day 2023: A Toolkit for Women’s Health and Equity.
This article uses the terms “women” and “men”, but Peppy recognises that gender exists on a spectrum and trans men, trans women, and non-binary people also experience discrimination in the workplace.