On March 8, International Women's Day (IWD), we take stock of the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women and advocate for greater progress towards gender equality.
In the 56 years since the Equal Pay Act was passed, American women still face a substantial wage gap compared to their male counterparts. On average, a woman earns 80.5 cents for every dollar a man earns, with a women's median annual earnings being $10,086 less than men's, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Despite making up 58 percent of the American workforce, women are also severely underrepresented at senior management and leadership levels. Only 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies had a female CEO in 2018!
Here are three easy ways to celebrate International Women's Day in the office and promote the advancement and equal treatment of women everywhere.
1. Unleash the power of social media.
This year's IWD theme is #BalanceforBetter, which calls on all individuals to drive greater gender balance.
A social media-driven campaign aims to highlight how women's representation in the workplace is not just a women's issue, but a business imperative and essential for thriving economies and communities. It will call attention to the urgent need for gender-balanced boardrooms, a gender-balanced government, a gender balance of employees and more gender balance in wealth, among other things.
Utilize this awareness day on March 8 to showcase the various ways your organization is women-friendly both internally and externally via social media, intranets and email blasts. Highlight women-friendly policies such as paid maternity leave, promote women-friendly ERGs, and celebrate the women within your organization who have broken the glass ceiling. Take it a step further, and call on the women in your organization to share their workplace experiences publicly, with options for anonymous sharing.
2. Host a women's equality celebration.
Some companies, particularly big ones, offer opportunities for employees to hear thought leaders speak on various topics on a regular basis. For those with the budget and space, consider inviting a few women's equality champions to speak to your staff as part of your office's IWD celebrations.
A more budget-friendly option is hosting a potluck where everyone brings in a dish from the cookbook Share, which includes recipes by women in the war-torn countries, renowned international chefs and humanitarians. One hundred percent of the profits from the sales of Share go to Women for Women International to help women of war-torn countries rebuild their lives. When sitting around the table, have each team member share a little about the woman behind their chosen recipe.
3. Host a volunteer day or fundraiser.
For companies that offer volunteer time off (VTO), use IWD as an opportunity for a team outing. Volunteer at a local organization that serves women. This could be anything from volunteering at a domestic violence shelter to helping young women learn to code.
For some, leaving the office for a large part of the day is not always an option, so use IWD as an opportunity to fundraise. Host a companywide book fair featuring works of women, or even a bake sale, where proceeds go to benefit organizations that champion women's rights.
Celebrations and recognition can take many different shapes and forms. It is important to remember that IWD is a day to celebrate women and their contributions to your workplace, as well as to take stock of the work that needs to come next to make our organizations and society more equitable.